Research ArticleGENETICS

A climate-associated multispecies cryptic cline in the northwest Atlantic

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Science Advances  28 Mar 2018:
Vol. 4, no. 3, eaaq0929
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaq0929


The spatial genetic structure of most species in the open marine environment remains largely unresolved. This information gap creates uncertainty in the sustainable management, recovery, and associated resilience of marine communities and our capacity to extrapolate beyond the few species for which such information exists. We document a previously unidentified multispecies biogeographic break aligned with a steep climatic gradient and driven by seasonal temperature minima in the northwest Atlantic. The coherence of this genetic break across our five study species with contrasting life histories suggests a pervasive macroecological phenomenon. The integration of this genetic structure with habitat suitability models and climate forecasts predicts significant variation in northward distributional shifts among populations and availability of suitable habitat in future oceans. The results of our integrated approach provide new perspective on how cryptic intraspecific diversity associated with climatic variation influences species and community response to climate change beyond simple poleward shifts.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

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