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Keywords:

  • Barnacles;
  • biogeography;
  • Cape Cod;
  • Chthamalus fragilis;
  • climate change;
  • Megabalanus coccopoma;
  • Semibalanus balanoides;
  • western Atlantic

ABSTRACT

Aim  Marine sessile inter-tidal invertebrates are expected to undergo shifts in distribution due to climate change. Using a combination of survey and transplant data with thermal modelling, we investigated the role of climate on the poleward contraction of the southern range edge of the north temperate barnacle Semibalanus balanoides.

Location  Western Atlantic of the United States.

Methods  Barnacle surveys were conducted along the east coast of the United States in 1963 and 2007. Presence, absence and abundance data were collected and the time periods were compared. Transplant experiments monitoring survival with relation to temperature were conducted upon S. balanoides along the more southerly portion of their range, and modelling predicting barnacle survival with relation to biogeography was completed.

Results  The southern limit of S. balanoides has contracted approximately 350 km to the north.

Main conclusions  The changes thus far observed in climate along the east coast of the United States have contributed to the southern limit range contraction of S. balanoides. Further changes in the biogeography of S. balanoides are expected with continued climate warming.