Climate and Ecosystem Change in the Mediterranean
Since the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 many hundreds of marine animal and plant species from the Red Sea have invaded the eastern Mediterranean, leading to significant changes in the native flora and fauna of the Mediterranean.
An international team of researchers reported in a recent issue of the international journal Plos One that warming in the Mediterranean caused by climate change could promote the invasion of tiny marine animals called foraminifera.
The foraminifera Pararotalia is a very unimpressive animal at first glance. It is unicellular and very small. Despite this, foraminifera play an important role in the stabilization of ecosystems in the coastal zone. The calcite shells of dead animals form the foundation for many reef ecosystems and have a fundamental importance as so called-ecosystem engineers.
Foraminiferal specialists such as Dr. Christiane Schmidt can identify foraminifera by the shape of their calcite shells. Together with her future MARUM colleagues the geo-ecologist, who will return to Bremen after completing a short-term fellowship in Japan, collected samples of living foraminifera at the Nachscholim National Park, south of Haifa, from the spring of 2012 to autumn 2013.
One object of their search was the newly described Foraminifera Pararotalia, which was first discovered in 1994 in the eastern Mediterranean and has multiplied explosively there since then.
“To date there is no evidence of the occurrence of this species in the Red Sea,” says Dr. Schmidt. MARUM researcher Dr. Raphael Morard, who conducted the molecular identification on this species adds: “With these methods we can show that Pararotalia is indeed an invasive species that originates from the Indian Ocean and the Pacific.”
The success of the genus Pararotalia in the Mediterranean can be attributed to its ecology. This foraminifer lives in symbiosis with tiny microalgae. This symbiosis provides two advantages: foremost, the algae provide food for the Pararotalia through photosynthesis, and this also promotes the growth of the calcite shell of its host.
“Basically it is the temperature regime in the eastern Mediterranean that dictates whether species such as Pararotalia can survive or not,” Dr. Schmidt says. “We have cultured this species in the laboratory and shown that its thermal optimum is around 28°C, but below 20°C and above 35°C it has extreme difficulty surviving.
Next, the team developed a computer model to determine which regions in the eastern Mediterranean are especially well suited for Pararotalia. The model takes into account all occurrence records of this species published to date and, based on the light regime and sea-water turbidity in these locations, both important factors for the survival of the species, models where it is likely to occur now and in the future. The model gives clear results: the coastal ecosystems of Israel and Lebanon are currently the best-suited habitats for this species, but the species currently also lives in Syria and southeastern Turkey.
The model also suggests that in the future Pararotalia will likely expand to areas in the Mediterranean that are still too cold for its survival today. Increasing sea-water temperatures will lead to migration of the species into the western Mediterranean. Co-author Dr. Anna Weinmann, researcher at the University of Bonn says: “Our model clearly shows that by 2100 Pararotalia will likely be found in the Aegean, the Ionic Sea, in Greece, and in Libya due to transport by the prevailing currents.”
Christiane Schmidt, Raphael Morard, Ahuva Almogi-Labin, Anna E. Weinmann, Danna Titelboim, Sigal Abramovich, Michal Kucera
Recent Invasion of the Symbiont-Bearing Foraminifera Pararotalia into the Eastern Mediterranean Facilitated by the Ongoing Warming Trend
In: PLOS One online, 13th August 2015, http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0132917
More information / interview requests / photos:
MARUM Science Communication
Phone ++49 - 421 - 218-65541
MARUM aims at understanding the role of the oceans in the Earth’s system by employing state-of-the-art methods. It examines the significance of the oceans within the framework of global change, quantifies interactions between the marine geosphere and biosphere, and provides information for sustainable use of the ocean.
MARUM comprises the DFG research center and the cluster of excellence "The Ocean in the Earth System".
Albert Gerdes | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Multi-institutional collaboration uncovers how molecular machines assemble
02.12.2016 | Salk Institute
Fertilized egg cells trigger and monitor loss of sperm’s epigenetic memory
02.12.2016 | IMBA - Institut für Molekulare Biotechnologie der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften GmbH
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