Conserving potential coral reef refuges at high latitudes

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Ocean Acidification

Aim

High-latitude coral reef communities composed of tropical, subtropical and temperate species are heralded as climate change refuges for vulnerable tropical coral reef species, giving them high, but as yet unrealized, conservation priority. We review the ecology of subtropical reefs in the context of climate change and evaluate management strategies ensuring both their own continuity and their potential to act as refuges for tropical species.

Location

Global high-latitude coral reef environments.

Methods

We review the literature about refuges management, high-latitude reefs, climate change effects on reef organisms and the conservation of reefs.

Results

High-latitude coral reef systems are functionally different from their tropical counterparts, characterized by unique biogeographical overlap of taxa at their range margins, endemic species and strong seasonality in species composition. They are shaped by marginal environmental conditions, which are predicted to undergo greater changes than reefs at lower latitudes, resulting in community re-assembly through range shifts, altered…

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