Date: October 14 at 11 am
Location: AERL 120
Subject: Climate warming and the functional composition of fish communities in the Barents Sea
Speaker: André Frainer, Postdoctoral researcher, UiT The Arctic University of Norway
- Background: Recent studies indicate that the composition of fish communities is changing in the Arctic due to climate warming. It is less clear if the functional composition of these communities is also changing, and how that could affect ecosystem functioning.
- Methods: I assessed changes in the functional composition of fish communities across space and time using data from 2004 to 2012 covering the entire Barents sea, totalizing nearly 4000 sampling stations. The 54 fish species found were characterized by a set of 20 different functional traits that reflect different aspects of fish biology and ecology, including: information on habitat and diet preferences, body size, fecundity, and foodweb-derived characteristics of each species, among others.
- Results: Across the Barents sea, fish functional identity ranged from being more pelagic and piscivorous, and with more foodweb connections to prey and predators (boreal-like) to more benthivorous, smaller, and with fewer foodweb connections (Arctic-like). Random forest analyses indicate that temperature is driving changes in functional composition of these communities, with the formerly widespread Arctic-like communities being reduced to fewer areas in the northeast.
- Conclusions: A change in community composition along with changes in its functional composition is already affecting how Arctic ecosystems function, with large implication for its ecosystem properties and for fisheries as well, as the current and future distribution of fish species carrying important traits (e.g., large-bodied, pelagic fish) is rapidly changing northwards.
Photo credit: Peter Pearson from flickr/Creative Commons
Biography: André Frainer is a postdoctoral researcher at UiT The Arctic University of Norway in Tromsø, Norway. He received his PhD from Umeå University in 2013 in Sweden. His main line of research focuses on investigating how biodiversity affects ecosystem functioning in marine and freshwater ecosystems.