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High climate velocity and population fragmentation may constrain climate-driven range shift of the key habitat former Fucus vesiculosus

Journal article
Authors Per R. Jonsson
J. Kotta
H. C. Andersson
K. Herkul
E. Virtanen
A. N. Sandman
Kerstin Johannesson
Published in Diversity and Distributions
Volume 24
Issue 7
Pages 892-905
ISSN 1366-9516
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of marine sciences
Linnaeus Centre for Marine Evolutionary Biology (CEMEB)
Pages 892-905
Language en
Keywords Baltic Sea, bladder wrack, climate change, connectivity, dispersal, fragmentation, local adaptation, range shift, salinity, species distribution model, brackish baltic sea, brown alga, marine ecosystems, atmosphere model, local adaptation, presence-absence, salinity, future, phaeophyceae, conservation, Biodiversity & Conservation, Environmental Sciences & Ecology
Subject categories Marine ecology


Aim: The Baltic Sea forms a unique regional sea with its salinity gradient ranging from marine to nearly freshwater conditions. It is one of the most environmentally impacted brackish seas worldwide, and the low biodiversity makes it particularly sensitive to anthropogenic pressures including climate change. We applied a novel combination of models to predict the fate of one of the dominant foundation species in the Baltic Sea, the bladder wrack Fucus vesiculosus. Methods: We used a species distribution model to predict climate change-induced displacement of F.vesiculosus and combined these projections with a biophysical model of dispersal and connectivity to explore whether the dispersal rate of locally adapted genotypes may match estimated climate velocities to recolonize the receding salinity gradient. In addition, we used a population dynamic model to assess possible effects of habitat fragmentation. Results: The species distribution model showed that the habitat of F.vesiculosus is expected to dramatically shrink, mainly caused by the predicted reduction of salinity. In addition, the dispersal rate of locally adapted genotypes may not keep pace with estimated climate velocities rendering the recolonization of the receding salinity gradient more difficult. A simplistic model of population dynamics also indicated that the risk of local extinction may increase due to future habitat fragmentation. Main conclusions: Results point to a significant risk of locally adapted genotypes being unable to shift their ranges sufficiently fast considering the restricted dispersal and long generation time. The worst scenario is that F.vesiculosus may disappear from large parts of the Baltic Sea before the end of this century with large effects on the biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. We finally discuss how to reduce this risk through conservation actions, including assisted colonization and assisted evolution.

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