Project Details


Ongoing climate change is rapidly transforming marine ecosystems and communities throughout the world’s oceans. Increases in temperature are considered one of the main drivers of latitudinal distribution shifts in marine fishes, which are predicted to migrate towards cooler areas. These range shifts mean that commercially important species are likely to cross geo-political boundaries, increasing the likelihood of mismatches between current fishing practices (and policies) and future distributions. Forecasting models that predict range shifts are thus essential to anticipate and mitigate potential fisheries conflicts and the subsequent socio-economic impacts of a moving resource.

In order to distinguish among the multiple drivers behind range shifts it is necessary to understand the evolutionary dynamics that shaped current patterns of diversity, and, in particular, to identify the genomic basis of how fish are adapted to their local environmental niche. Understanding such local adaptations might aid forecasting models predict which populations are likely to persist, expand or disappear under different climate scenarios and under which time frame. Furthermore, the contribution of fisheries to current levels of genomic diversity, as well as its adaptive significance, needs to be taken into consideration when establishing the vulnerability of a species to climate change, as decades of intense exploitation are likely to incur evolutionary consequences.

Although there is a recognized need to incorporate genomic diversity and adaptive potential in forecasting models, this is not currently done for commercially exploited marine fishes. GenClim aims to bridge this gap, by investigating the evolutionary consequences of distribution shifts in key fishery species (hakes, anchovy and sparids) throughout the Eastern Atlantic. Sample design will cover three major areas: the North Sea, the Iberian Coast and southern Africa. These regions are considered hotspots for climate change, as warming is occurring faster than the global average. Genomic data will be obtained from core, leading and trailing edges of the populations in these regions, and insights from these analyses will be incorporated into climatic forecasting models in order to increase their predictive capacity of future distribution changes.

Furthermore, GenClim will develop new state-of-the-art bio-economic modelling, to analyse key socioeconomic outcomes, e.g. food security, fishery profits, and international trade-flows, with the aim of identifying new policies that perform well in an climatic variability setting. As such, the outcomes of GenClim will be used to provide advice to stakeholders on changes in distribution, abundance and evolutionary resilience of fishery species, as well as on potential conflicts arising from shifting resources.

DTU Aqua, National Institute of Aquatic Resources (coordinator)
University of Stellenbosch, South Africa
Kiel University, Germany
ISPA, Portugal
Algarve Centre of Marine Sciences (CCMAR), Portugal 

The project is funded by Innovation Fund Denmark. 

Research area: Population Genetics
Effective start/end date31/03/202130/03/2024


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