The University of Southampton
Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton

Research project: The role of climate change, species invasions and hybridisation in the redistribution of marine biodiversity

Currently Active: 
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The movement of species outside their natural ranges due to human-mediated transport exponentially increases the opportunities for previously geographically isolated genotypes / species to hybridise. This project will investigate the effects of anthropogenic transport on locally-adapted genotypes and the fitness effects on intraspecific and interspecific hybrids.

Project Overview

The movement of marine species outside their natural ranges due to human-mediated transport (e.g. shipping, aquaculture) is reshaping the distribution of worldwide biodiversity and is responsible for aggressive species invasions. Similarly, climate change is greatly modifying the global distribution of biodiversity. Previous research has linked the effects of climate change and species invasions, leading to the conclusion that climate change will typically favour invasive species. A relatively unexplored consequence of species invasions and climate change is the study of hybridisation. Anthropogenic transport of species exponentially increases the opportunities for previously geographically isolated genotypes / species to hybridise, and hybrid populations can exhibit transgressive phenotypes (i.e. more extreme than either parent), which can become invasive. Consequently, the study of hybridisation is particularly important when predicting the effects of climate change and future changes in species distributions. Modelling techniques have been extensively used to predict changes in species distributions but have failed to incorporate large-scale hybridisation events into their predictions. This project proposes addressing these limitations, as well as exploring further links between climate change and invasive species.

The project will focus on marine invertebrate species that are major fouling organisms in harbours and marinas and have shown aggressive invasive behaviour in aquaculture facilities and harbours around the world. The project will investigate: (1) the effects of anthropogenic transport of locally-adapted genotypes, (2) fitness of intraspecific progeny vs interspecific hybrids under controlled conditions, (3) species distributions using predictive modelling under future climatic conditions. The movement of marine species outside their natural ranges due to human-mediated transport (e.g. shipping, aquaculture) is reshaping the distribution of worldwide biodiversity and is responsible for aggressive species invasions. Similarly, climate change is greatly modifying the global distribution of biodiversity. Previous research has linked the effects of climate change and species invasions, leading to the conclusion that climate change will typically favour invasive species. A relatively unexplored consequence of species invasions and climate change is the study of hybridisation. Anthropogenic transport of species exponentially increases the opportunities for previously geographically isolated genotypes / species to hybridise, and hybrid populations can exhibit transgressive phenotypes (i.e. more extreme than either parent), which can become invasive. Consequently, the study of hybridisation is particularly important when predicting the effects of climate change and future changes in species distributions. Modelling techniques have been extensively used to predict changes in species distributions but have failed to incorporate large-scale hybridisation events into their predictions. This project proposes addressing these limitations, as well as exploring further links between climate change and invasive species.

The project will focus on marine invertebrate species that are major fouling organisms in harbours and marinas and have shown aggressive invasive behaviour in aquaculture facilities and harbours around the world. The project will investigate: (1) the effects of anthropogenic transport on locally-adapted genotypes, (2) fitness of intraspecific progeny vs interspecific hybrids under controlled conditions, (3) species distributions using predictive modelling under future climatic conditions.

This project has been funded by: SMMI

Associated research themes

Ecology and Evolution Lab

Mark Chapman's Lab

Related research groups

Marine Biology and Ecology

Staff

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