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
Successful calculation of human and natural influence on cloud formation
04.11.2016 | Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main
Invasive Insects Cost the World Billions Per Year
04.10.2016 | University of Adelaide
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy