This week is Seaweek and guest blogger Guanfang Su describes her research on predicting distributional shifts of large marine vertebrates around Australia.
Guanfang Su comes from Shandong, China. She is currently undertaking her PhD in the Global Ecology Lab within the School of Earth and Environment at the University of Adelaide. She works with fantastic colleagues worldwide and her supervisors are Professor Barry Brook and Professor Corey Bradshaw.
There is clear evidence that climate change is impacting on marine ecosystems in Australia, e.g. the large-scale coral bleaching and subtropical species southward shift into temperate waters. Little is known about how this will affect large mobile marine vertebrates. Will mass extinctions occur? This study aims to use some case studies to develop state-of-the-art predictive tools for predicting marine species responses to climate change around Australia.
Grey nurse shark (Carcharias taurus) is one of the endangered species in Australian coastal areas. The distributions of grey nurse shark in Australia mainly lie in Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia. It is the first shark that was protected in the world by law in 1984 . The decline of the population through the 1960s to 1990s in Australia was mainly caused by commercial fishing. The main diet of grey nurse shark includes bony fishes, juvenile sharks, rays, squids and crustaceans. Its migration has been widely studied by tagging programs.
The habitat suitability of the grey nurse shark is predicted to shift over the next 20 years. The winter low sea-surface temperature is a limiting factor for grey nurse shark migratation to the south. The sea surface temperature in 2030 is predicted by GCMs (Atmosphere-ocean general circulation model). In the 2030s, because of the southern coastal sea’s warming, the east coast and west coast grey nurse shark populations may contact.
Guest Post by Guanfang Su. Contact the Environment Institute if you would like to contribute as a guest blogger.