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Media opportunity: Dal study suggests similarities in reef habitats could help predict how future climate warming will affect fish communities thousands of kilometres apart
Fish species and reef habitats separated by thousands of kilometres and millions of years of evolution appear to have striking similarities, researchers at Dalhousie University suggest in a new paper that could provide a blueprint for how fish communities can be expected to change in the future.
Scientists in Canada, France and Australia studied fish communities by looking at certain traits – their body sizes, behaviours, habitats and diets. They compared these traits in fish around the world, from Norway to southern Chile, and found that when different regions had similar environments, fish had similar traits even though the species were not closely related.
The research, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, can show what types of fish are present in a set of environmental conditions, something that allows researchers to more accurately predict how future climate warming will affect fish communities around the world.
Matthew McLean, a postdoctoral fellow in Dalhousie’s Department of Biology, co-authored the study which he says will also help researchers improve fish conservation by sharing successful strategies among regions, particularly where scientific research capacity is limited. For example, if they can identify ways to improve reef fish health in a well-studied area like Australia, similar methods are likely to work in parts of Africa or the Caribbean where fish have similar traits.
Dr. McLean is available to explain the findings and why understanding how environmental changes affect fish stocks is critical to ensuring food and economic security.
High-resolution photos are available for download here.
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Senior Research Reporter
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