Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Global warming threatens Antarctic sea life

05.02.2009
Climate change is about to cause a major upheaval in the shallow marine waters of Antarctica. Predatory crabs are poised to return to warming Antarctic waters and disrupt the primeval marine communities.

"Nowhere else than in these ecosystems do giant sea spiders and marine pillbugs share the ocean bottom with fish that have antifreeze proteins in their blood," says Rich Aronson, professor of biological sciences at Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, Fla.

"The shell-cracking crabs, fish, sharks and rays that dominate bottom communities in temperate and tropical zones have been shut out of Antarctica for millions of years because it is simply too cold for them."

But this situation is about to change. "Populations of predatory king crabs are already living in deeper, slightly warmer water," says Aronson. "And increasing ship traffic is introducing exotic crab invaders. When ships dump their ballast water in the Antarctic seas, marine larvae from as far away as the Arctic are injected into the system."

Aronson and his colleagues published their results in the electronic journal PLoS ONE to coincide with the U.S. National Teach-In on Global Warming Solutions on Feb. 5.

Fast-moving, shell-crushing predators, dominant in most places, cannot operate in the icy waters of Antarctica. The only fish there—the ones with the antifreeze proteins—eat small, shrimp-like crustaceans and other soft foods. The main bottom dwelling predators are slow-moving sea stars and giant, floppy ribbon worms.

To understand their history, Aronson and a team of paleontologists collected marine fossils at Seymour Island off the Antarctic Peninsula. Linda Ivany of Syracuse University reconstructed changes in the Antarctic climate from chemical signals preserved in ancient clamshells. As temperatures dropped about 41 million years ago and crabs and fish were frozen out, the slow-moving predators that remained could not keep up with their prey. Snails, once out of danger, gradually lost the spines and other shell armor they had evolved against crushing predators.

Antarctica's coastal waters are warming rapidly. Temperatures at the sea surface off the western Antarctic Peninsula went up 1°C in the last 50 years, making it one of the fastest-warming regions of the World Ocean.

If the crab invasion succeeds, it will devastate Antarctica's spectacular fauna and fundamentally alter its ecological relationships. "That would be a tragic loss for biodiversity in one of the last truly wild places on earth," says Aronson. "Unless we can get control of ship traffic and greenhouse-gas emissions, climate change will ruin marine communities in Antarctica and make the world a sadder, duller place."

karen rhine | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.fit.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Removing fossil fuel subsidies will not reduce CO2 emissions as much as hoped
08.02.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

nachricht The disappearance of common species
01.02.2018 | Technical University of Munich (TUM)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters

Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...

Im Focus: Autonomous 3D scanner supports individual manufacturing processes

Let’s say the armrest is broken in your vintage car. As things stand, you would need a lot of luck and persistence to find the right spare part. But in the world of Industrie 4.0 and production with batch sizes of one, you can simply scan the armrest and print it out. This is made possible by the first ever 3D scanner capable of working autonomously and in real time. The autonomous scanning system will be on display at the Hannover Messe Preview on February 6 and at the Hannover Messe proper from April 23 to 27, 2018 (Hall 6, Booth A30).

Part of the charm of vintage cars is that they stopped making them long ago, so it is special when you do see one out on the roads. If something breaks or...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Fingerprints of quantum entanglement

16.02.2018 | Information Technology

'Living bandages': NUST MISIS scientists develop biocompatible anti-burn nanofibers

16.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Hubble sees Neptune's mysterious shrinking storm

16.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>