The rise of novelty in marine ecosystems: The Baltic Sea case
Global environmental changes have accelerated at an unprecedented rate in recent decades due to human activities. As a consequence, the incidence of novel abiotic conditions and biotic communities, which have been continuously emerging in the Earth system, has rapidly risen. Despite growing attention to the incidence and challenges posed by novelty in terrestrial ecosystems, novelty has not yet been quantified in marine ecosystems.
Here, we measured for the rate of novelty (RoN) in abiotic conditions and community structure for three trophic levels, i.e., phytoplankton, zooplankton, and fish, in a large marine system - the Baltic Sea. We measured RoN as the degree of dissimilarity relative to a specific spatial and temporal baseline, and contrasted this with the rate of change as a measure of within-basin change over time.
We found that over the past 35 years abiotic and biotic RoN showed complex dynamics varying in time and space, depending on the baseline conditions. RoN in abiotic conditions was smaller in the open Central Baltic Sea than in the Kattegat and the more enclosed Gulf of Bothnia, Gulf of Riga, and Gulf of Finland in the north. We found a similar spatial pattern for biotic assemblages, which resulted from changes in composition and stock size. We identified sea-surface temperature and salinity as key drivers of RoN in biotic communities. Hence, future environmental changes that are expected to affect the biogeochemistry of the Baltic Sea, may favor the rise of biotic novelty.
Our results highlighted the need for a deeper understanding of novelty development in marine ecosystems, including interactions between species and trophic levels, ecosystem functioning under novel abiotic conditions, and considering novelty in future management interventions.
Research news | 2022-05-22
Celebrating International day for biodiversity
May 22 is the International Day for Biodiversity and we celebrate it by highlighting our research on the topic
Research news | 2022-05-20
Relaunch of hub on environment, climate and security
Swedish government launches second phase of the Stockholm Hub on Environment, Climate and Security, building knowledge on how climate and environmental change lead to human insecurities
Research news | 2022-05-16
The effects of less, but better meat production
Study captures the real-world experiences and effects of a farm’s journey towards sustainability
Research news | 2022-05-14
Our engagements during Stockholm +50
When and where to find us during the international environmental meeting in Stockholm 2-3 June
Research news | 2022-05-10
Centre joins SEK 45 million landscape programme
LAND-PATHS programme will engage with ordinary citizens to develop more sustainable and integrated decision-making processes
Research news | 2022-05-09
Three ways games can break sustainability deadlocks
Played by the right people, strategy games can break free from established norms and support more transparent democratic dialogues