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The heatwave resulted in fewer large cool-water seaweeds and increased numbers of tropical fish.
In the paper ‘An extreme climatic event alters marine ecosystem structure in a global biodiversity hotspot' published in the journal Nature Climate Change, an international collaboration led by researchers from UWA's Oceans Institute and School of Plant Biology compared the impacts of the heat wave on biodiversity in two Indian Ocean locations - Jurien Bay and Hamelin Bay, 500km further south.
The coastal margins along Australia's western coast, including Jurien Bay, form a biodiversity hotspot and transition zone between tropical and temperate ecosystems.
In the summer of 2010/11, the region experienced the highest seawater temperatures in at least 140 years when - for more than two months - temperatures peaked up to five degrees higher than normal. *The event was driven by unusually strong La Ni
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