A team from the University of Liverpool’s School of Biological Sciences have found that the 100 life-size statues which make up Antony Gormley’s ‘Another Place’ art installation on Crosby Beach have become a haven for a settlement of a particular breed of barnacle - Elminius modestus.
Although the barnacles have been present on North West shorelines since the 1950s, they originate from half way across the world on the coasts of Australia. They are never normally found on sandy beaches such as Crosby but the hard surface of the sculptures has provided them with an ideal habitat for settlement as well as offering scientists an important insight into factors influencing colonisation.
The installation of the cast iron figures - each a replica of the artist’s own body, and identical in size, shape and material - offer a perfectly replicated study environment to test for the effects of different levels of exposure to the environment, currents and sea level on marine settlements.
Research leader, Dr Leonie Robinson, commented: “Although the key facts about barnacle colonisation are well known, it is rare that such a unique opportunity arises to assess all facts together in such a well designed ecological experiment.
“Creatures like barnacles and mussels prefer habitats that are exposed to the elements but choose optimal positions that allow them to feed in the water column without getting battered by waves and currents. The Gormley statues not only provide a perfect anchor point but sheltered parts of the figures such as the inner thigh protect them from extreme harsh conditions.
“This particular breed is a cross-fertilising hermaphrodite which means that once it has settled, the barnacle can produce multiple broods of larvae – increasing its local population size several times in a year.”
Funded by the British Ecological Society (BES), the team are also analysing DNA taken from the settlement to find out where the barnacles have travelled from in addition to assessing the factors which led to choosing where on the statues they fixed themselves.
The study will end in November, when the Gormley statues will be uprooted and moved to a new home in New York. Before transit they will be cleaned of all trace of the marine life they have housed on Merseyside – just as they were cleaned when they arrived in Crosby from their previous ‘homes’ across Europe.
Dr Robinson added: “We will be sorry to see the statues go, but in a relatively short time we have been able to test some key ecological theories about the colonisations of communities on intertidal shores. We hope to organise collaboration with marine scientists in New York to follow up our research findings in the UK.”
Joanna Robotham | alfa
Safeguarding sustainability through forest certification mapping
27.06.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Dune ecosystem modelling
26.06.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
Strong light-matter coupling in these semiconducting tubes may hold the key to electrically pumped lasers
Light-matter quasi-particles can be generated electrically in semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Material scientists and physicists from Heidelberg University...
Fraunhofer IPA has developed a proximity sensor made from silicone and carbon nanotubes (CNT) which detects objects and determines their position. The materials and printing process used mean that the sensor is extremely flexible, economical and can be used for large surfaces. Industry and research partners can use and further develop this innovation straight away.
At first glance, the proximity sensor appears to be nothing special: a thin, elastic layer of silicone onto which black square surfaces are printed, but these...
3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects
A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...
Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.
For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...
What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.
To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...
21.07.2017 | Event News
19.07.2017 | Event News
12.07.2017 | Event News
25.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
25.07.2017 | Earth Sciences
25.07.2017 | Life Sciences