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  • 1.
    Forsman, Anders
    et al.
    Linnaeus University, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Department of Biology and Environmental Science.
    Berggren, Hanna
    Linnaeus University, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Department of Biology and Environmental Science.
    Åström, Mats E.
    Linnaeus University, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Department of Biology and Environmental Science.
    Larsson, Per
    Linnaeus University, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Department of Biology and Environmental Science.
    To what extent can existing research help project climate change impacts on biodiversity in aquatic environments?: A review of methodological approaches2016In: Journal of Marine Science and Engineering, E-ISSN 2077-1312, Vol. 4, no 4, article id 75Article, review/survey (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    It is broadly accepted that continued global warming will pose a major threat to biodiversity in the 21st century. But how reliable are current projections regarding consequences of future climate change for biodiversity? To address this issue, we review the methodological approaches in published studies of how life in marine and freshwater environments responds to temperature shifts. We analyze and compare observational field surveys and experiments performed either in the laboratory or under natural conditions in the wild, the type of response variables considered, the number of species investigated, study duration, and the nature and magnitude of experimental temperature manipulations. The observed patterns indicate that, due to limitations of study design, ecological and evolutionary responses of individuals, populations, species, and ecosystems to temperature change were in many cases difficult to establish, and causal mechanism(s) often remained ambiguous. We also discovered that the thermal challenge in experimental studies was 10,000 times more severe than reconstructed estimates of past and projections of future warming of the oceans, and that temperature manipulations also tended to increase in magnitude in more recent studies. These findings raise some concerns regarding the extent to which existing research can increase our understanding of how higher temperatures associated with climate change will affect life in aquatic environments. In view of our review findings, we discuss the trade-off between realism and methodological tractability. We also propose a series of suggestions and directions towards developing a scientific agenda for improving the validity and inference space of future research efforts.

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