, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp 779-789

Impact of climate warming upon the fish assemblages of the Portuguese coast under different scenarios

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Impact of sea-surface warming upon the fish assemblages of the Portuguese coast was assessed under two scenarios, the A2 and the B2 scenarios (Special Report on Emission Scenarios), which when coupled with a regional circulation model HadRM3 predict 1 and 2°C of sea-surface warming until the year 2100. Species richness increased in the Portuguese coast. In both scenarios, there was a latitudinal gradient in the amount of lost and gained species, increasing from north to south. An anomaly in the latitudinal gradient of species richness was detected in the southernmost area, which presented the lowest species richness of all areas, in the A2 scenario, and appears to be particularly vulnerable to climate change. Very few species were totally eliminated from Portuguese waters. For the Portuguese coast as a whole, there were more new than lost species, in both scenarios. Most of the new species were commercially important species, in the majority subtropical in the north and tropical in the south, mainly demersal and reef-associated. Reef-associated species also increased in relative importance. A commercial opportunity for fisheries may arise from climate warming, since most of the new species were commercial species and not many commercial species were lost. An increasing gradient from north to south was detected in the colonization of new species of herbivores, planktivores, and omnivores, as well as lower mean trophic level, which might have consequences for the future of trophic webs.