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Arctic warming will promote Atlantic-Pacific fish interchange
Nature Climate Change
Throughout much of the Quaternary Period, inhospitable environmental conditions above the Arctic Circle have been a formidable barrier separating most marine organisms in the North Atlantic from those in the North Pacific(1,2). Rapid warming has begun to lift this barrier(3), potentially facilitating the interchange of marine biota between the two seas(4). Here, we forecast the potential northward progression of 515 fish species following climate change, and report the rate of potential species interchange between the Atlantic and the Pacific via the Northwest Passage and the Northeast Passage. For this, we projected niche-based models under climate change scenarios and simulated the spread of species through the passages when climatic conditions became suitable. Results reveal a complex range of responses during this century, and accelerated interchange after 2050. By 2100 up to 41 species could enter the Pacific and 44 species could enter the Atlantic, via one or both passages. Consistent with historical and recent biodiversity interchanges(5,6), this exchange of fish species may trigger changes for biodiversity and food webs in the North Atlantic and North Pacific, with ecological and economic consequences to ecosystems that at present contribute 39% to global marine fish landings.
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