The University of Southampton
University of Southampton Institutional Repository

Range expansions across ecoregions: interactions of climate change, physiology and genetic diversity

Record type: Article

Climate change is expected to drive range shifts among a wide array of organisms. Non-indigenous species (NIS) provide a unique opportunity to observe the establishment of range boundaries in a way that cannot be directly seen for native species. Recent studies have indicated that climate change facilitates biological invasions at local scales. However, the generality of these effects is unclear, as there is a dearth of comparative studies that assess how rapid environmental change affects species ranges across taxa and biogeographic provinces.

The South African coast and other coastlines across the world.

We first studied the distribution of shallow-marine benthic organisms along the South African coastline and analysed the global distribution of NIS. We then obtained DNA sequence data from a suite of co-occurring NIS from along the studied coastline and compared these data with available genetic information from other regions of the world. Subsequently, we conducted physiological experiments to assess how thermal tolerance was related to species distribution. Finally, we analysed ship-based seawater temperature records and compared these with past changes in the range size and abundance of NIS. These records were used to estimate shipping intensity and NIS propagule pressure.

We found that NIS with a variety of thermal tolerances and distributions have expanded their ranges and increased in abundance as seawater temperature regimes have changed. We found little interannual variation in shipping transport intensity. Most haplotypes of the studied NIS in South Africa were shared with other regions.

Main conclusions
This study provides empirical evidence that NIS, regardless of their thermal tolerance, range size and genetic variability, are expanding their ranges and increasing in abundance. This trend is uncorrelated with levels of human-mediated NIS transport but concurrent with changes in seawater temperature, which suggests that climate change fosters the spread and abundance of NIS across multiple spatial scales.

PDF Rius et al. 2014.Global Ecol.Biogeogr.pdf - Version of Record
Restricted to Repository staff only
Download (5MB)


Rius, M., Clusella-Trullas, S., McQuaid, C.D., Navarro, R., Griffiths, C.L., Matthee, C.A., von der Heyden, S. and Turon, X. (2014) Range expansions across ecoregions: interactions of climate change, physiology and genetic diversity Global Ecology and Biogeography, 23, (1), pp. 76-88. (doi:10.1111/geb.12105).

More information

e-pub ahead of print date: 13 September 2013
Published date: January 2014
Keywords: ascidians, biogeography, ecotones, invasive species, naturalization, non-native, performance curve, population expansion, thermal sensitivity
Organisations: Ocean Biochemistry & Ecosystems


Local EPrints ID: 355036
ISSN: 1466-822X
PURE UUID: 761de864-cc2c-4c47-adcb-47397522dfb3

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 25 Jul 2013 14:52
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 03:50

Export record



Author: M. Rius
Author: S. Clusella-Trullas
Author: C.D. McQuaid
Author: R. Navarro
Author: C.L. Griffiths
Author: C.A. Matthee
Author: S. von der Heyden
Author: X. Turon

University divisions

Download statistics

Downloads from ePrints over the past year. Other digital versions may also be available to download e.g. from the publisher's website.

View more statistics

Atom RSS 1.0 RSS 2.0

Contact ePrints Soton:

ePrints Soton supports OAI 2.0 with a base URL of

This repository has been built using EPrints software, developed at the University of Southampton, but available to everyone to use.

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.