Global diversity patterns of larger benthic foraminifera under future climate change
Global warming threatens the viability of tropical coral reefs and associated marine calcifiers, including symbiont-bearing larger benthic foraminifera (LBF). The impacts of current climate change on LBF are debated because they were particularly diverse and abundant during past warm periods. Studies on the responses of selected LBF species to changing environmental conditions reveal varying results. Based on a comprehensive review of the scientific literature on LBF species occurrences, we applied species distribution modeling using Maxent to estimate present-day and future species richness patterns on a global scale for the time periods 2040–2050 and 2090–2100. For our future projections, we focus on Representative Concentration Pathway 6.0 from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which projects mean surface temperature changes of +2.2°C by the year 2100. Our results suggest that species richness in the Central Indo-Pacific is two to three times higher than in the Bahamian ecoregion, which we have identified as the present-day center of LBF diversity in the Atlantic. Our future predictions project a dramatic temperature-driven decline in low-latitude species richness and an increasing widening bimodal latitudinal pattern of species diversity. While the central Indo-Pacific, now the stronghold of LBF diversity, is expected to be most pushed outside of the currently realized niches of most species, refugia may be largely preserved in the Atlantic. LBF species will face large-scale non-analogous climatic conditions compared to currently realized climate space in the near future, as reflected in the extensive areas of extrapolation, particularly in the Indo-Pacific. Our study supports hypotheses that species richness and biogeographic patterns of LBF will fundamentally change under future climate conditions, possibly initiating a faunal turnover by the late 21st century.