Researchers from NOAA and the University of North Carolina-Wilmington have found that the increasing temperatures of our ocean waters may increase the range and dispersal of invasive species like the Lionfish. “The results [of their study] will allow us to better understand how the fish communities might shift under different climate change scenarios and provide the type of environmental data to inform future decisions relating to the management and siting of protected areas,” says Paula Whitfield, a research ecologist at NOAA. Researchers used surface and sub-surface temperature readings while observing 40 different species of fish. They found the range of fish directly correlated to the shifts in temperature shown throughout the differing zones. “Globally, fish communities are becoming more tropical as a result of warming temperatures, as fish move to follow their optimal temperature range,” said Whitfield. “Along the North Carolina coast, warming water temperatures may allow the expansion of tropical fish species, such as lionfish, into areas that were previously uninhabitable due to cold winter temperatures. The temperature thresholds collected in this study will allow us to detect and to estimate fish community changes related to water temperature.” Read more here!