Biological interactions both facilitate and resist climate-related functional change in temperate reef communities


Shifts in the abundance and location of species are restructuring life on the Earth, presenting the need to build resilience into our natural systems. Here, we tested if protection from fishing promotes community resilience in temperate reef communities undergoing rapid warming in Tasmania. Regardless of protection status, we detected a signature of warming in the brown macroalgae, invertebrates and fishes, through increases in the local richness and abundance of warm-affinity species. Even so, responses in protected communities diverged from exploited communities. At the local scale, the number of cool-affinity fishes and canopy-forming algal species increased following protection, even though the observation window fell within a period of warming. At the same time, exploited communities gained turf algal and sessile invertebrate species. We further found that the recovery of predator populations following protection leads to marked declines in mobile invertebrates— this trend could be incorrectly attributed to warming without contextual data quantifying community change across trophic levels. By comparing long-term change in exploited and protected reefs, we empirically demonstrate the role of biological interactions in both facilitating and resisting climate-related biodiversity change. We further highlight the potential for trophic interactions to alter the progression of both range expansions and contractions


Bates Amanda E., Stuart-Smith Rick D., Barrett Neville S., Edgar Graham J.




Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences

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