Distinct inter- and intra-specific vulnerability of coastal species to global change

Erica S. Nielsen*, Romina Henriques, Maria Beger, Sophie von der Heyden

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

149 Downloads (Pure)


Characterising and predicting species responses to anthropogenic global change is one of the key challenges in contemporary ecology and conservation. The sensitivity of marine species to climate change is increasingly being described with forecasted species distributions, yet these rarely account for population level processes such as genomic variation and local adaptation. This study compares inter- and intra-specific patterns of biological composition to determine how vulnerability to climate change, and its environmental drivers, vary across species and populations. We compare species trajectories for three ecologically important southern African marine invertebrates at two time points in the future, both at the species level, with correlative species distribution models, and at the population level, with gradient forest models. Reported range shifts are species-specific and include both predicted range gains and losses. Forecasted species responses to climate change are strongly influenced by changes in a suite of environmental variables, from sea surface salinity and sea surface temperature, to minimum air temperature. Our results further suggest a mismatch between future habitat suitability (where species can remain in their ecological niche) and genomic vulnerability (where populations retain their genomic composition), highlighting the inter- and intraspecific variability in species' sensitivity to global change. Overall, this study demonstrates the importance of considering species and population level climatic vulnerability when proactively managing coastal marine ecosystems in the Anthropocene.
Original languageEnglish
JournalGlobal Change Biology
Issue number15
Pages (from-to)3415-3431
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Seascape genomics
  • Ecological modelling
  • Species distribution models
  • Gradient forest
  • Adaptive potential
  • Marine invertebrates
  • Climate change
  • Genomic offset


Dive into the research topics of 'Distinct inter- and intra-specific vulnerability of coastal species to global change'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this