A new study by an international team of researchers including The University of Western Australia reveals the worst marine heatwave ever recorded off Western Australia was responsible for a massive loss of genetic diversity in underwater forests.
The study published in Current Biology found that between 30 and 65 per cent of average genetic diversity was lost at sites along 800km of coastline.
One of the co-authors, Associate Professor Thomas Wernberg from UWA’s Oceans Institute and School of Biological Sciences, said the results showed that marine heatwaves may compromise the ability of seaweed forests to respond to future climate change.
“Although the ecological impacts of extreme climatic events are often obvious and well documented, little is known about how these events impact underlying genetic diversity and adaptability,” Associate Professor Wernberg said. MORE