Coral expansion in Sydney and associated coral-reef fishes
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Climate change is driving marine tropical species poleward, but successful range shifts require a suitable larval transport environment, warm water, and habitat in the temperate receiving environment. In South-East Australia, poleward advection of coral-reef fish species has been well documented (e.g., Booth et al. 2018); however, a key habitat for coral-reef fish is coral itself, which has generally not spread as far poleward as fishes and other invertebrates (Baird et al. 2012).
Associated with the new coral bed are several tropical species previously unrecorded in long-term monitoring described above, including Plectroglyphidodon dickii (Pomacentridae: Fig. 1b), Dascyllus reticulatus (Pomacentridae: Fig. 1c), Paragobiodon modestus (Gobiidae) as well as species rarely recorded in Sydney such as D. trimaculatus (Fig. 1d). The expansion of the coral beds documented here is likely to continue, given sea temperature and East Australian Current strengthening predictions (e.g., Booth et al. 2018) and we expect in future to record more new associated tropical species facilitated by the corals.
The authors thank Prof. Andrew Baird for advice on coral identification.