Climate-driven impacts of exotic species on marine ecosystems

Scott Bennett, Julia Santana-Garcon, Núria Marbà, Gabriel Jorda, Andrea Anton Gamazo, Eugenia T Apostolaki, Just Cebrian, Nathan Geraldi, Dorte Krause-Jensen, Catherine E Lovelock, Paulina Martinetto, John M. Pandolfi, Carlos M. Duarte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Aim: Temperature is fundamental to the physiological and ecological performance of marine organisms, but its role in modulating the magnitude of ecological impacts by exotic species remains unresolved. Here, we examine the relationship between thermal regimes in the range of origin of marine exotic species and sites of measured impact, after human-induced introduction. We compare this relationship with the magnitude of impact exerted by exotic species on native ecosystems. Location: Global. Time period: 1977–2017 (meta-analysis). Major taxa studied: Marine exotic species. Methods: Quantitative impacts of exotic species in marine ecosystems were obtained from a global database. The native range of origin of exotic species was used to estimate the realized thermal niche for each species and compared with the latitude and climatic conditions in recipient sites of recorded impact of exotic species. The difference in median temperatures between recipient sites and the thermal range of origin (i.e., thermal midpoint anomaly) was compared with the magnitude of effect sizes by exotic species on native species, communities and ecosystems. Results: Recorded impacts occurred predominantly within the thermal niche of origin of exotic species, albeit with a tendency toward higher latitudes and slightly cooler conditions. The severity of impacts by exotic species on abundance of native taxa displayed a hump-shaped relationship with temperature. Peak impacts were recorded in recipient sites that were 2.2°C cooler than the thermal midpoint of the range of origin of exotic species, and impacts decreased in magnitude toward higher and lower thermal anomalies. Main conclusions: Our findings highlight how temperature and climatic context influence ecological impacts by exotic species in marine ecosystems and the implications for existing and novel species interactions under climate change.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalGlobal Ecology and Biogeography
StatePublished - Mar 12 2021

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2021-03-30
Acknowledgements: S.B. received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement no. 659246 and from the Australian Research Council (DE200100900). S.B., J.S.-G. and N.M. received funding from the Spanish Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness (MedShift, CGL2015-71809-P) and Fundación BBVA (project Interbioclima). J.M.P. received funding from the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (CE140100020). D.K.-J. received funding from the Independent Research Fund Denmark (CARMA; 8021-00222B).

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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