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USP puts Fiji academic on international stage

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Update: 3:16PM THE University of the South Pacific has put Fiji academia on an international stage after a research by an academic titled 'Abundance and local-scale processes contribute to multi-phyla gradients in global marine diversity' was added to the American 'Science Advances' journal.

USP senior lecturer at the School of Marine Studies Dr Stuart Kininmonth found that large mobile invertebrates (such as crabs, lobsters, sea stars, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, snails, and octopus) were relatively abundant in colder latitudes while fishes were abundant in the tropics.

He said fish appeared to be superior predators in warm waters, but not in colder conditions.

"In other words, the latitudinal gradient in biodiversity reflects not only species' preferences for particular temperatures and environmental conditions but also ecological interactions," Dr Kininmonth said.

"As fishes extend their ranges away from the equator with ocean warming, they are likely to cause a decrease in the diversity of large invertebrates, affecting food webs, ecosystems and fisheries."

Dr Kininmonth said the effects of climate change on marine life varied greatly between geographic regions, as 'tropicalisation' of marine life in South East Australia and Tasmania is already underway, but similar effects have not yet been detected in New Zealand.

He acknowledged the wonderful contributions of the citizen scientist divers around the world who had contributed to this research through the Reef Life Survey program.

Science Advances journal is an online-only gold open access journal from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world's oldest and largest general science organisation.

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