Changing Ocean Research Unit

CORU at Work

Research topics

Climate change

1. Develop analytical tools to assess the impacts of climate and ocean changes on marine biota and fisheries (e.g., Cheung et al. 2008, 2011).

  • Development of the Dynamic Bioclimate Envelope Model (DBEM) to predict species distributions;
  • The current version of DBEM explicitly accounts for eco-physiology, population dynamics, dispersal and habitat suitability;
  • An upcoming version of DBEM will also account for trophic-interactions.

2. Develop global and regional scenarios of climate change impacts on marine biota (e.g., Cheung et al. 2009, 2010, 2012a). Our works project that:

  • the majority of exploited marine fishes and invertebrates in the world are expected to shift their distribution centroid poleward and to deeper water by 2050 relative to now, under a range of greenhouse gas emission scenarios;
  • the rate of local extinction driven by warming is expected to be highest along the tropics and in semi-enclosed seas while rate of invasion is highest in high-latitude regions;
  • marine communities are expected to be “tropicalized”.

3. Effects of climate change on marine fisheries (e.g., Cheung et al. 2010, 2012b, Sumaila et al. 2011, Lam et al. 2012).

  • Maximum fisheries catch potential is expected to decrease substantially (>30%) in the tropics and increase in some high latitude regions.


Conservation of marine fishes

1. Vulnerability of marine biota to fishing (e.g., Cheung et al. 2005, 2007).

  • An index of intrinsic vulnerability of marine fishes to fishing (now available as a standard information for most marine fishes in FishBase)

2. Conservation and management of threatened marine fishes (e.g., Sadovy & Cheung 2003, Sadovy et al. 2012).

  • e.g., Chinese bahaba (Bahaba taipingensis), humphead wrasse (Cheilinus undulatus) and Nassau grouper (Epinephelus striatus).


Trade-offs in ecosystem-based fisheries management

1. Assessing the benefits and costs of marine protected areas (e.g., Sumaila et al. 2008).

2. Trade-offs in managing ecosystem services in China and Kenya (e.g., Cheung & Sumaila 2007, ESPA funded project).



Chinese fisheries

1. Reconstruction of historical changes in Hong Kong marine ecosystems and fisheries (Cheung & Sadovy 2004).

2. Status of fisheries resources in South China Sea (Cheung & Pitcher 2008).

3. Modelling of East China Sea marine ecosystem (Cheng et al. 2009).

a place of mind, The University of British Columbia

Faculty of Science
1505-6270 University Boulevard,
Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z4, Canada
Changing Ocean Research Unit
Fisheries Centre, 2202 Main Mall,
Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z7, Canada
Fax: (+1) 604 8228934

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