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Alien species moving across oceans faster; climate change to accelerate this

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The brown mussel has retracted its range in South Africa due to decreasing seawater temperatures. Olga Ernst/ Wikimedia Commons Oceans and coastlines have been subjected to human use for centuries. But the effects of human activity on the oceans are now more extensive, with the resulting changes happening more rapidly than ever before .

It is hard to find a spot in the ocean that has not been invaded by an alien species . Shipping is a big contributor to this process as over 90% of the world’s trade occurs via shipping .

The marine environment is changing too: ocean temperatures, salinity, chemistry, sea levels, ice content and weather patterns are all being altered as a result of climate change . These changes in oceanic environments are bound to affect biological invasions.

In a recent paper , we explored the implications of climate change along the entire invasion process. We found that climate change is likely to lead to more marine invasions because it will shift which species are moved, how they are moved and where they are moved to.

On top of this, climate change will alter where alien and native species have the greatest chance of survival and spread. Climate change […]

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