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How will mangrove fishes respond to climate change in South Australia?

This research project focuses on understanding how mangrove fishes will respond to climate change by studying the distribution, behaviour and physiology of these fishes in the field and in the laboratory.

mangrove fish by Ivan Nagelkerken

Mangroves are common (sub)tropical plant species that live in coastal intertidal zones. As a result of climate change they are extending their distribution ranges to higher latitudes and invading temperate coastal salt marsh habitats. Mangroves and salt marshes both act as important nursery and feeding areas for a wide range of species, including fishes, shrimp, crabs, and birds.

South Australia represents a temperature mixing zone where mangroves and salt marshes co-occur, and where climate transitions from subtropical to temperate. With ongoing global warming it is expected that the mangroves will move southwards, but it is unknown if their associated fish communities will show a similar response and how these fishes will be impacted by increasing temperature and other global stressors.

Field studies will reveal the fish abundance, biodiversity and community composition in mangroves across their current distribution in South Australia. Video recordings will be taken to study fish behaviour. Fishes will also be collected to study their condition and fitness. Within this broader theme, there will be a range of projects for students to choose from.

The information gained will be valuable to predict future nursery function and habitat importance of mangroves for fishes in South Australia, how this might affect current marine protected areas, and which fish species will be the local winners or losers of climate change.


 

Marine ecologist Ivan Nagelkerken

Supervisor

Professor Ivan Nagelkerken

Research area:
Marine ecology - climate change effects on fishes

Recommended honours enrolment:
Honours in Ecology and Environmental Science

Tagged in Honours projects - Ecology and environmental science, Honours projects - Ivan Nagelkerken