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Groundfish species diversity and assemblage structure in Icelandic waters during recent years of warming

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Elevated ocean temperatures have been predicted to lead to a poleward shift in the latitudinal distribution ranges of fish species. Different responses of fish species to increased temperatures might lead to changes in assemblage structure and local species richness. In this study, the assemblage structure and diversity of groundfish in Icelandic waters were examined using data from a standardized groundfish survey conducted annually in 1996–2007. We used hierarchical cluster analysis to define assemblages in two time periods and canonical correspondence analysis to explore the relationships between the assemblages and temperature, depth, latitude, longitude and year. We further used two estimates of diversity, species richness and the Shannon index. Four major species assemblages were identified. Assemblages in the hydrographically stable deep waters north of the country were consistent during the study, while assemblage structure in the more variable shallow waters underwent some changes. For this period of generally increasing sea temperature, the canonical correspondence analysis also revealed a shift towards species representative of warmer temperatures. Diversity was shown to be highly variable both temporally and spatially, and also to vary with depth and temperature. Species richness increased with temperature and time southwest of the country, but decreased northeast of the country. The different trends detected between the northern and southern areas illustrate the importance of performing analyses at the most appropriate scale.
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Keywords: climate change; groundfish assemblages; multivariate analysis; species diversity; temperature

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Biology, University of Iceland, Stugata 7, IS 101 Reykjavík, Iceland 2: Marine Research Institute, Skulagata 4, P.O. Box 1390, 121 Reykjavik, Iceland

Publication date: 01 January 2010

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