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Title: Climate-related factors cause changes in the diversity of fish and invertebrates in subtropical coast of the Gulf of Mexico

Climate change impacts physical and chemical properties of the oceans, and these changes affect the ecology of marine organisms. One important ecological consequence of climate change is the distribution shift of marine species toward higher latitudes. Here, the prevalence of nearly 150 species of fish and invertebrates were investigated to find changes in their distributions over 35 years along a subtropical coast within the Gulf of Mexico. Our results show that 90 species increased their occupancy probability, while 33 decreased (remaining species neither increase or decrease), and the ranges of many species expanded. Using rarefaction analysis, which allows for the estimation of species diversity, we show that species diversity has increased across the coast of Texas. Climate-mediated environmental variables are related to the changes in the occupancy probability, suggesting the expansion of tropical species into the region is increasing diversity.

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Communications Biology
Nature Publishing Group
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National Science Foundation
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