Researchers at the University of Adelaide have found tropical and temperate coral reef fish can co-exist.
As our climate changes, many terrestrial and marine species are forced to extend their ranges poleward, to stay within the bounds of their thermal tolerances. However, when such species enter higher latitude ecosystems, they engage in innovative interactions with local species, such as altered predator–prey dynamics and competition for food.
This paper focuses on the tropical overlap between range‐extending and local fish species along the east coast of temperate Australia, a hotspot for ocean warming and species range extensions. The study shows that in recipient temperate ecosystems, tropical and temperate species do not overlap significantly in their diet – even though they forage on broadly similar prey groups and are therefore unlikely to compete for tropical niche space.
The tropical and temperate species studied (which are commonly found in shallow‐water coastal environments) exhibited a moderate range of adaption and flexibility towards food and their environment.
Researchers suspect that because these species are generalists, they can co‐exist under current climate change, facilitating the existence of new community structures.
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