Project: Biodiversity on the run: evolutionary and socio-economic consequences of shifting distribution ranges in commercially exploited marine fishes

Acronym GenClim (Reference Number: BiodivClim-421)
Duration 01/04/2021 - 30/03/2024
Project Topic 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 and anchovy) 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 socio-economic 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.
Project Results
(after finalisation)
GenClim brings together state-of-the-art genomics, forecasting modelling and socio-economic modelling to disentangle the multiple consequences of range shifts of commercially exploited marine fishes. • Identify and assess the main genomic changes and the drivers of differentiation between core, leading and trailing edges of populations of range shifting species Merluccius merluccius, M. paradoxus and Engraulis encrasicolus. • Improve the ability to foresee future range shifts by including genomic information, as well as the likelihood of populations persisting, expanding or collapsing under a changing and variable climate. • Evaluate if the reliability of ecological forecasts depends on life-history features and evolutionary histories of species, or if they are primarily driven by region-specific climatic variability. • Assess if the combination of genomic data and forecasting models can be used to anticipate socio-economic consequences of status-quo policies as well as of different management options, and thereby inform advice for relevant stakeholders, such as the International Council for Exploration of the Sea, the European Union, the Benguela Current Commission and national governments, to mitigate future conflicts arising from shifting resources.
Network BiodivERsA3
Call 2019-2020 Joint Call

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
1 Technical University of Denmark - National Institute of Aquatic Resources Coordinator Denmark
2 Stellenbosch University Partner South Africa
3 Centre for Marine Sciences Partner Portugal
4 University of Kiel Partner Germany
5 Instituto Universitário de Ciências Psicológicas, Sociais e da Vida Partner Portugal