Ecological Studies Volume 219, 2012, pp 383-406

Global Seaweed Biogeography Under a Changing Climate: The Prospected Effects of Temperature

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Temperature is one of the most important factors controlling the biogeography of seaweeds. To identify worldwide prospective distributional shifts of major biogeographical regions under a global change scenario, we applied a macroecological modeling approach. We compared the borders of biogeographical regions between present and end of the century sea surface temperatures (SST) taken from global climate model simulations and drew conclusions for distributional changes. All regions will extend towards the poles. As a consequence, the tropical region will widen considerably. However, there will be almost no change in the northern extent of the Antarctic region. According to the model data, the annual SST gradient will change along extensive coastlines creating broad transitional regions, some of which contain high seaweed genus diversity. As a consequence, the structure of the seaweed assemblages in these biogeographical regions will probably be reorganized.