Excessive temperatures promote biodiversity in arctic and subarctic seas

The results of the study prove that global warming is leading to a redistribution of species not only in the tropics but also in polar regions

Peer reviewed publication


A new study by Nord University (Norway), with the participation of the Institut de Ciències del Mar (ICM-CSIC) in Barcelona, ​​has confirmed that the high temperatures in the Arctic and subarctic seas – particularly affected by global warming – encourage the establishment of species in these waters that previously inhabited warmer areas farther south.

Details of the research are reported in a recent article published in the journal PNAS. Data from more than 20,000 trawl surveys in the Norwegian and Barents Seas between 1994 and 2020 were analyzed to conduct the study.

“In 1994, an average of 8 species of fish were caught in each trawl in the Norwegian and Barents Seas, while in 2020 the number rises to over 13, a 66% increase. The results of the study also showed an increase, albeit less significant, in the wealth of neighboring areas,” explains the lead author Cesc Gordó Vilasecafrom North University.

This proves that the warming of waters due to climate change is leading to a redistribution of species, not only in the warmer areas – much better studied – but also in colder areas like the polar zones, which are warming much faster than the rest of the planet.

Different responses to warming

On the other hand, the study shows the responses of different species to warming. Of the 193 species included, 71 relatively warm water species are now more common in the northern seas, while 23 species previously more common in the study area are now less common.

However, the study also reveals the spread of some Arctic species that may be adapting well to rising temperatures. Among the relatively warm species that are increasing are some of great commercial interest, such as the common cod (Gadus morhua). In contrast, according to the study, most of the declining Arctic species, such as Arctic cod (Arctogadus glacialis), are not widely fished, although they may play an important ecological role.

“The shift in abundance of species, sometimes favored by high temperatures and sometimes not, could lead to a reconfiguration of ecological interactions, leading to changes in the structure and functioning of the entire ecosystem,” he warns Martha CollResearcher at ICM-CSIC and co-author of the study.

Studies like these are essential as they can help develop more effective conservation and management strategies. For this reason, for future research, researchers will delve deeper into the changes at the overall ecosystem level that may be caused by the rise in temperature in the polar regions. The potential impact of these changes on fisheries management and conservation measures will also be analyzed.


Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences




Experimental study




Three decades of increasing fish biodiversity in the Northeast Atlantic and Arctic Ocean

By EurekAlert!

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