Global Change Biology
Accelerated loss of sea ice in the Arctic is opening routes connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans for longer periods each year. These changes may increase the ease and frequency with which marine birds and mammals move between the Pacific and Atlantic ocean basins. Indeed, recent observations of birds and mammals suggest these movements have intensified in recent decades. Reconnection of the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean basins will present both challenges to marine ecosystem conservation and an unprecedented opportunity to examine the ecological and evolutionary consequences of inter-oceanic faunal exchange in real time. To understand these changes and implement effective conservation of marine ecosystems, we need to further develop modeling efforts to predict the rate of dispersal and consequences of faunal exchange. These predictions can be tested by closely monitoring wildlife dispersal through the Arctic Ocean and using modern methods to explore the ecological and evolutionary consequences of these movements.
McKeon, C. S., Weber, M. X., Alter, S. E., Seavy, N. E., Crandall, E. D., Barshis, D. J., Fechter-Leggett, E. D. and Oleson, K. L. L. (2016), Melting barriers to faunal exchange across ocean basins. Glob Change Biol, 22: 465–473. doi:10.1111/gcb.13116