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Climate-assisted persistence of tropical fish vagrants in temperate marine ecosystems

Cite this dataset

DiBattista, Joseph et al. (2021). Climate-assisted persistence of tropical fish vagrants in temperate marine ecosystems [Dataset]. Dryad.


Rising temperatures and extreme climatic events are propelling tropical species into temperate marine ecosystems, but not all species can persist. Here, we used the heatwave-driven expatriation of tropical black rabbitfish (Siganus fuscescens) to the temperate environments of Western Australia to assess the ecological and evolutionary mechanisms that may entail their persistence. Population genomic assays for this rabbitfish indicated little genetic differentiation between tropical residents and vagrants to temperate environments due to high migration rates, which were likely enhanced by the marine heatwave. DNA metabarcoding revealed a diverse diet for this species based on phytoplankton and algae, as well as an ability to feed on regional resources, including kelps. Irrespective of future climate scenarios, these macroalgae-consuming vagrants may self-recruit in temperate environments and further expand their geographic range by 2100. This expansion may compromise the health of the kelp forests that form Australia’s Great Southern Reef. Overall, our study demonstrates that projected favourable climatic conditions, continued large-scale genetic connectivity between populations, and diet versatility are key for tropical range-shifting fish to establish in temperate ecosystems.


See included README file and Gajdzik et al. 2021 published in Communications Biology.

Usage notes

We have provided two types of data files, associated metadata, and supporting documentation: 1) metabarcoding data for diet analysis and 2) SNP data for population genetic analysis.

For #1, metabarcoding data for diet analysis, we here provide: (i) raw Illumina MiSeq read 1 file in .fastq format (file name "MSRun289_LIG23_S1_L001_R1_001.fastq"), (ii) raw Illumina MiSeq read 2 file in .fastq format (file name "MSRun289_LIG23_S1_L001_R2_001.fastq"), (iii) demultiplexed metabarcoding reads from stomach samples of each rabbitfish indivual in fasta format (zip folder "Demultiplexed_samples_fasta_format"), (iv) metadata for each stomach sample (file name "Metadata_dietary_metabarcoding_rabbitfish"), and (v) oligonucleotide and index sequences used for demultiplexing in fasta format (zip folder "Oligo_sequence_indices_fasta_format").

For #2, SNP data for population genetic analysis, we here provide: (i) raw SNP data as provided by (file name "DArTseq_data_rabbitfish_Gajdzik_et_al") and (ii) metadata for each Siganus fuscescens individual caught from 13 sites across seven regions in Western Australia (file name "Metadata_DArTseq_Gajdzik_et_al").


Australian Research Council, Award: LP160100839

Australian Research Council, Award: LP160101508