In consequence of climate change, marine life are now pushing their territory range up past the Arctic, something scientists have been gradually noticing for two decades. After thorough observation, it's clear that climate change and global warming are the catalysts to this phenomenon. The effects of warming waters and loss of sea ice have had a slow yet drastic impact on the surrounding fisheries and ecological regions, including the inhabitants below the water’s surface. An international team of researchers have examined the Arctic-led migration and through various findings have concluded that the recent changes in the biodiversity were driven by said species range expansions.
The climate-driven changes have led to potential alterations in the region's native and inhabiting species due to a large overlap in migrating marine life. Different marine communities have found their way North during periods of extreme temperature rise, increased human activity, or the sudden loss of ice caps. The team collected data pertaining to species density for local and migrating marine life, community composition, and co-occurrences between the species. The data displayed about 69 new species across 8 different Arctic regions from 2000 to 2019. They combined this information with collected climate and productivity data to create an interconnected map between the both.
"Our findings revealed that changes in climate and species richness in the Arctic vary across different large marine areas and highlight potential regions of climate and productivity hotspots, and emerging areas of species gain. This information is relevant for strengthening conservation and management efforts for the sustainable use of resources under the expanding footprints of climate change in the Arctic," concluded researcher, Dr. Irene D. Alabia from the Arctic Research Center at Hokkaido University.
The most significant finding was the increase in differential species richness in the studied regions, surpassing the time of the conducted study. This is due to the northward migration of apex predators such as whales, sharks, and seabirds – many of which were not native to those regions. Mesopredators such as fish and crab displayed a limited migration distance, having to stay within more shallow regions, such as the Pacific and Atlantic shelf seas.
Climate change, global warming, and extensive human productivity have been the cause of various biodiverse domino effects – either leading to strong migrations, surface level temperature increases, loss of sea ice and arctic lands, among many other natural phenomena. These occurrences will continue to happen as long as society continues at the current speed of production. It is up to us to put in extreme efforts to decrease these natural, yet abnormal consequences.