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Oostende, Belgium

Jueterbock A.,University of Nordland | Tyberghein L.,Flanders Marine Institute VLIZ | Tyberghein L.,Ghent University | Verbruggen H.,University of Melbourne | And 3 more authors.
Ecology and Evolution | Year: 2013

The North-Atlantic has warmed faster than all other ocean basins and climate change scenarios predict sea surface temperature isotherms to shift up to 600 km northwards by the end of the 21st century. The pole-ward shift has already begun for many temperate seaweed species that are important intertidal foundation species. We asked the question: Where will climate change have the greatest impact on three foundational, macroalgal species that occur along North-Atlantic shores: Fucus serratus, Fucus vesiculosus, and Ascophyllum nodosum? To predict distributional changes of these key species under three IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) climate change scenarios (A2, A1B, and B1) over the coming two centuries, we generated Ecological Niche Models with the program MAXENT. Model predictions suggest that these three species will shift northwards as an assemblage or "unit" and that phytogeographic changes will be most pronounced in the southern Arctic and the southern temperate provinces. Our models predict that Arctic shores in Canada, Greenland, and Spitsbergen will become suitable for all three species by 2100. Shores south of 45° North will become unsuitable for at least two of the three focal species on both the Northwest- and Northeast-Atlantic coasts by 2200. If these foundational species are unable to adapt to the rising temperatures, they will lose their centers of genetic diversity and their loss will trigger an unpredictable shift in the North-Atlantic intertidal ecosystem. © 2013 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Source


Verbruggen H.,University of Melbourne | Tyberghein L.,Ghent University | Tyberghein L.,Flanders Marine Institute VLIZ | Belton G.S.,University of Adelaide | And 6 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2013

The utility of species distribution models for applications in invasion and global change biology is critically dependent on their transferability between regions or points in time, respectively. We introduce two methods that aim to improve the transferability of presence-only models: density-based occurrence thinning and performance-based predictor selection. We evaluate the effect of these methods along with the impact of the choice of model complexity and geographic background on the transferability of a species distribution model between geographic regions. Our multifactorial experiment focuses on the notorious invasive seaweed Caulerpa cylindracea Caulerpa subspecies and uses Maxent, a commonly used presence-only modeling technique. We show that model transferability is markedly improved by appropriate predictor selection, with occurrence thinning, model complexity and background choice having relatively minor effects. The data shows that, if available, occurrence records from the native and invaded regions should be combined as this leads to models with high predictive power while reducing the sensitivity to choices made in the modeling process. The inferred distribution model of Caulerpa cylindracea shows the potential for this species to further spread along the coasts of Western Europe, western Africa and the south coast of Australia. © 2013 Verbruggen et al. Source


Van Cauwenberghe L.,Ghent University | Vanreusel A.,Ghent University | Mees J.,Ghent University | Mees J.,Flanders Marine Institute VLIZ | Janssen C.R.,Ghent University
Environmental Pollution | Year: 2013

Microplastics are small plastic particles (<1 mm) originating from the degradation of larger plastic debris. These microplastics have been accumulating in the marine environment for decades and have been detected throughout the water column and in sublittoral and beach sediments worldwide. However, up to now, it has never been established whether microplastic presence in sediments is limited to accumulation hot spots such as the continental shelf, or whether they are also present in deep-sea sediments. Here we show, for the first time ever, that microplastics have indeed reached the most remote of marine environments: the deep sea. We found plastic particles sized in the micrometre range in deep-sea sediments collected at four locations representing different deep-sea habitats ranging in depth from 1100 to 5000 m. Our results demonstrate that microplastic pollution has spread throughout the world's seas and oceans, into the remote and largely unknown deep sea. © 2013. Source


Van Cauwenberghe L.,Ghent University | Claessens M.,Ghent University | Claessens M.,DuPont Company | Vandegehuchte M.B.,Ghent University | And 3 more authors.
Marine Pollution Bulletin | Year: 2013

A comprehensive assessment of marine litter in three environmental compartments of Belgian coastal waters was performed. Abundance, weight and composition of marine debris, including microplastics, was assessed by performing beach, sea surface and seafloor monitoring campaigns during two consecutive years. Plastic items were the dominant type of macrodebris recorded: over 95% of debris present in the three sampled marine compartments were plastic. In general, concentrations of macrodebris were quite high. Especially the number of beached debris reached very high levels: on average 6429 ± 6767 items per 100. m were recorded. Microplastic concentrations were determined to assess overall abundance in the different marine compartments of the Belgian Continental Shelf. In terms of weight, macrodebris still dominates the pollution of beaches, but in the water column and in the seafloor microplastics appear to be of higher importance: here, microplastic weight is approximately 100 times and 400 times higher, respectively, than macrodebris weight. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. Source


van Soest R.W.M.,Netherlands Center for Biodiversity Naturalis | Boury-Esnault N.,Aix - Marseille University | Vacelet J.,Aix - Marseille University | Dohrmann M.,Smithsonian Institution | And 7 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2012

With the completion of a single unified classification, the Systema Porifera (SP) and subsequent development of an online species database, the World Porifera Database (WPD), we are now equipped to provide a first comprehensive picture of the global biodiversity of the Porifera. An introductory overview of the four classes of the Porifera is followed by a description of the structure of our main source of data for this paper, the WPD. From this we extracted numbers of all 'known' sponges to date: the number of valid Recent sponges is established at 8,553, with the vast majority, 83%, belonging to the class Demospongiae. We also mapped for the first time the species richness of a comprehensive set of marine ecoregions of the world, data also extracted from the WPD. Perhaps not surprisingly, these distributions appear to show a strong bias towards collection and taxonomy efforts. Only when species richness is accumulated into large marine realms does a pattern emerge that is also recognized in many other marine animal groups: high numbers in tropical regions, lesser numbers in the colder parts of the world oceans. Preliminary similarity analysis of a matrix of species and marine ecoregions extracted from the WPD failed to yield a consistent hierarchical pattern of ecoregions into marine provinces. Global sponge diversity information is mostly generated in regional projects and resources: results obtained demonstrate that regional approaches to analytical biogeography are at present more likely to achieve insights into the biogeographic history of sponges than a global perspective, which appears currently too ambitious. We also review information on invasive sponges that might well have some influence on distribution patterns of the future. © 2012 Van Soest et al. Source

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