However, climatic changes may also play a role. Researchers from the University of Gothenburg reveal how sensitive horseshoe crab populations are to natural climate change in a study recently published in the scientific journal Molecular Ecology.
Hoards of horseshoe crabs stranded in Port Mahon, Delaware Bay, USA. Rocks placed along the beach to protect the coast are preventing the crabs from returning to their playgrounds. Photograph: Peter Funch
The horseshoe crab is often regarded as a living fossil, in that it has survived almost unchanged in terms of body design and lifestyle for more than 400 million years. Crabs similar to today’s horseshoe crabs were walking the Earth long before the dinosaurs.
“Examining the genetic variation in populations of horseshoe crabs along the east coast of America has enabled us to track changes in population size over time,” says Matthias Obst from the Department of Zoology at the University of Gothenburg, one of the authors of the study published in Molecular Ecology. “We noted a clear drop in the number of horseshoe crabs at the end of the Ice Age, a period characterised by significant global warming.”
Horseshoe crab important in the coastal food chain
“Our results also show that future climate change may further reduce the already vastly diminished population. Normally, horseshoe crabs would have no problem coping with climate change, but the ongoing destruction of their habitats make them much more sensitive.”
Horseshoe crabs are an important part of the coastal food chain. Their blue blood is used to clinically detect toxins and bacteria. There are currently just four species of horseshoe crab left: one in North America (Limulus polyphemus) and three in South East Asia (Carcinoscorpius rotundicauda, Tachypleus gigas and Tachypleus tridentatus).
All four species are under threat on account of over-harvesting for use as fish bait and in the pharmaceuticals industry. The destruction of habitats around the beaches that are the crabs’ breeding grounds has also contributed to the drop in numbers.
“The most decisive factor may be future changes in sea level and water temperature,” says Obst. “Even if they are on a minimal scale such changes are likely to have a negative impact on the crabs’ distribution and reproduction.”
See them in Gothenburg
Living horseshoe crabs can be seen at the Maritime Museum in Gothenburg.Link to the article in Molecular Ecology http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-
294X.2010.04732.x/abstractFor more information, please contact:
Helena Aaberg | idw
International network connects experimental research in European waters
21.03.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)
World Water Day 2017: It doesn’t Always Have to Be Drinking Water – Using Wastewater as a Resource
17.03.2017 | ISOE - Institut für sozial-ökologische Forschung
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy