Turning on the heat: ecological response to simulated warming in the sea
Significant warming has been observed in every ocean, yet our ability to predict the consequences of oceanic warming on marine biodiversity remains poor. Experiments have been severely limited because, until now, it has not been possible to manipulate seawater temperature in a consistent manner across a range of marine habitats. We constructed a "hot-plate'' system to directly examine ecological responses to elevated seawater temperature in a subtidal marine system. The substratum available for colonisation and overlying seawater boundary layer were warmed for 36 days, which resulted in greater biomass of marine organisms and a doubling of space coverage by a dominant colonial ascidian. The "hot-plate'' system will facilitate complex manipulations of temperature and multiple stressors in the field to provide valuable information on the response of individuals, populations and communities to environmental change in any aquatic habitat.
Authors: Smale, Dan A., Wernberg, Thomas, Peck, Lloyd S., Barnes, David K.A.