Research ArticleOCEANOGRAPHY

Climate-driven aerobic habitat loss in the California Current System

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Science Advances  15 May 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 20, eaay3188
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aay3188

Abstract

Climate warming is expected to intensify hypoxia in the California Current System (CCS), threatening its diverse and productive marine ecosystem. We analyzed past regional variability and future changes in the Metabolic Index (Φ), a species-specific measure of the environment’s capacity to meet temperature-dependent organismal oxygen demand. Across the traits of diverse animals, Φ exhibits strong seasonal to interdecadal variations throughout the CCS, implying that resident species already experience large fluctuations in available aerobic habitat. For a key CCS species, northern anchovy, the long-term biogeographic distribution and decadal fluctuations in abundance are both highly coherent with aerobic habitat volume. Ocean warming and oxygen loss by 2100 are projected to decrease Φ below critical levels in 30 to 50% of anchovies’ present range, including complete loss of aerobic habitat—and thus likely extirpation—from the southern CCS. Aerobic habitat loss will vary widely across the traits of CCS taxa, disrupting ecological interactions throughout the region.

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