Large-scale study of Calanus in the North Atlantic Ocean: macroecological patterns and potential impacts of climate change
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Marine ecosystems show natural fluctuation throughout a large range of spatial and temporal scales. Despite the large amount of study devoted to the North Atlantic Ocean, drivers of those fluctuations remain unclear. By changing global climate, polluting, introducing exotic species, expanding and intensifying land uses and overharvesting biological resources, human activities have degraded the global ecosystem and drastically accelerated species extinction rates. Consequences of this human forcing become apparent in the progressive degradation of ecosystem that are used by humans (Schroter et al. , 2005), climate change- induced shifts in species distributions toward the poles (Parmesan et al. , 1999) and higher elevations (Wilson et al. , 2005), and in rapidly changing phenology (Edwards & Richardson, 2004). Data collected by the Continuous Plankton Recorder (CPR) constitutes, by both their temporal and biogeographical extends, one of the most useful datasets to investigate further major marine management issues as the distinction between anthropogenic, climatically forced and natural ecosystems fluctuations. The present work is a contribution to environmental change biology focused on copepods Calanus species as key structural species characteristic of the North Atlantic Ocean and adjacent seas. The purpose is to (1) identify environmental factors leading to the large-scale distribution patterns of Calanus that occurred in the North Atlantic Ocean, and (2) to propose and investigate new methods to assess both fundamental and realised niches of a dominant species in these basins. Most current approaches using Hutchinson concept of ecological niches to model species distribution belong to correlative or mechanistic models. A correlative approach has been developed to assess statistical relationships between the observed spatial distributions of two congeneric species and a set of environmental variables characteristic of the studied area. The method is designed to show the seasonal dynamics of environmental restriction driving observed distributions. Both Calanus finmarchicus and C. helgolandicus environmental preferences and optimum have been defined for 11 environmental parameters. A principal component analysis (PCA) has been used (1) to quantify the importance on the spatial distribution of each environmental parameter and (2) to identify the ecological niche. A numerical analysis based on Multiple Response Permutation Procedures (MRPP) was utilised to assess the breath of each niche and to compare them. The egg production rate of Calanus finmarchicus has been defined to investigate the link between physiology, macroecological patterns and ecological niches. It typically assesses the fundamental niche as in opposition to the correlative approach, the model based on a fundamental biological process is more focused on the potential response of C. finmarchicus to environmental conditions. The simplicity of the method which used only Sea Surface Temperature (SST) allows us to use IPCC scenarios and predict a shift in distribution over the 21st century.
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