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New modelling study suggests ranges of British soft coral species is set to expand northwards with global warming

New research from the MEEG team suggests that under RCP 8.5 climate projections, the current ranges of several iconic soft coral species around the UK are set to move northwards as sea temperatures rise towards the end of the 21st century. A modelling study led by Tom Jenkins predicts that considerably more of the shallow seas of northern Britain and areas of the southern North Sea will become suitable for colonisation by pink sea fan, Eunicella verrucosa, as ocean temperatures warm; the pink sea fan is very much at it's northern range edge under current conditions and it looks set to expand northwards, assuming other factors remain favourable. In contrast, while the range of dead man's fingers (Alcyonium digitatum) also looks set to move northwards, model predictions suggest that some areas around southern Britain where this octocoral is currently found in abundance may become less suitable for it as sea temperatures rise, especially in shallower waters.

Jenkins TL & Stevens JR. 2022Predicting habitat suitability and range shifts under projected climate change for two octocorals in the north-east AtlanticPeerJ 10e13509 

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