Climate-driven regime shift of a temperate marine ecosystem

Thomas Wernberg, Scott Bennett, Russ Babcock, Thibaut De Bettignies, Katherine Cure Chams, M. Depczynski, F. Dufois, J. Fromont, C.J. Fulton, Renae Hovey, E.S. Harvey, Thomas Holmes, Gary Kendrick, Ben Radford, Julia Santana Garcon, B.J. Saunders, Daniel Smale, Mads Thomsen, Chenae Tuckett, F. TuyaM.A. Vanderklift, Shaun Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

553 Citations (Scopus)


Ecosystem reconfigurations arising from climate-driven changes in species distributions are expected to have profound ecological, social, and economic implications. Here we reveal a rapid climate-driven regime shift of Australian temperate reef communities, which lost their defining kelp forests and became dominated by persistent seaweed turfs. After decades of ocean warming, extreme marine heat waves forced a 100-kilometer range contraction of extensive kelp forests and saw temperate species replaced by seaweeds, invertebrates, corals, and fishes characteristic of subtropical and tropical waters. This community-wide tropicalization fundamentally altered key ecological processes, suppressing the recovery of kelp forests.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-172
Issue number6295
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jul 2016


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