Review of the projected impacts of climate change on coastal fishes in southern Africa
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The coastal zone represents one of the most economically and ecologically important ecosystems on the planet, none more so than in southern Africa. This manuscript examines the potential impacts of climate change on the coastal fishes in southern Africa and provides some of the first information for the Southern Hemisphere, outside of Australasia. It begins by describing the coastal zone in terms of its physical characteristics, climate, fish biodiversity and fisheries. The region is divided into seven biogeographical zones based on previous descriptions and interpretations by the authors. A global review of the impacts of climate change on coastal zones is then applied to make qualitative predictions on the likely impacts of climate change on migratory, resident, estuarine-dependent and catadromous fishes in each of these biogeographical zones. In many respects the southern African region represents a microcosm of climate change variability and of coastal habitats. Based on the broad range of climate change impacts and life history styles of coastal fishes, the predicted impacts on fishes will be diverse. If anything, this review reveals our lack of fundamental knowledge in this field, in particular in southern Africa. Several research priorities, including the need for process-based fundamental research programs are highlighted.