Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Climate change threatens Lake Baikal's unique biota

05.05.2009
Endemic diatoms at the base of the lake's food chain depend on disappearing ice

Siberia's Lake Baikal, the world's largest and most biologically diverse lake, faces the prospect of severe ecological disruption as a result of climate change, according to an analysis by a joint US-Russian team in the May issue of BioScience.

The lake is considered a treasure trove for biologists and was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO because a high proportion of its rich fauna and flora are found nowhere else.

Perhaps the most alarming imminent threat stems from the dependence of the lake's food web on large, endemic diatoms, which are uniquely vulnerable to expected reductions in the length of time the lake is frozen each winter.

The article was written by Marianne V. Moore, of Wellesley College in Massachusetts, and five coauthors, including four from Irkutsk State University in Russia. Moore and colleagues note that Lake Baikal's climate has become measurably milder over recent decades, and that annual precipitation is expected to increase. The average ice depth in the lake is known to have decreased in recent decades, and the ice-free season to have increased. Changes in the lake's food-web composition have been documented.

Future shortening in the duration of ice cover is expected to curtail the growth of the lake's endemic diatoms, because unlike most diatoms, they bloom under the ice in springtime and are highly dependent on ice cover for their reproduction and growth. The diatoms constitute the principal food of tiny crustaceans abundant in the lake, and these are in turn preyed upon by the lake's fish. Moreover, the crustaceans could be affected by changes in the transparency of the ice, an expected result of shifting precipitation patterns and changes in wind dynamics.

Shortened periods of ice cover and changes in the ice's transparency may also harm the Baikal seal, the lake's top predator and the world's only exclusively freshwater seal. Because the seals mate and give birth on the ice, premature melting of the ice forces them into the water before molting and drastically reduces their fertility.

A warmer, wetter climate may be the principal threat to Lake Baikal's unique biological heritage, but it is not the only one. The secondary effects of climate change, including greater nutrient inputs and industrial pollution from melting permafrost, may also exact a toll on an already-stressed ecosystem.

The authors stress that Russians have long been dedicated to the well-being of Lake Baikal, and that there is substantial support for its protection. Nonetheless, they say, stepped-up monitoring is necessary. Furthermore, international commitments and action will be needed to limit climate change there, which is arguably the most pervasive danger to the lake.

After noon EST on May 1 and for the remainder of the month, the full text of the article will be available for free download through the copy of this Press Release available at http://www.aibs.org/bioscience-press-releases/

BioScience is the monthly journal of the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS). BioScience publishes commentary and peer-reviewed articles covering a wide range of biological fields, with a focus on "Organisms from Molecules to the Environment." The journal has been published since 1964. AIBS is an umbrella organization for professional scientific societies and organizations that are involved with biology. It represents some 200 member societies and organizations with a combined membership of about 250,000.

The complete list of research articles in the May 2009 issue of BioScience is as follows:

From Gene Expression to Phenotype in Insects: Non-microarray Approaches for Transcriptome Analysis.

Diana L. Huestis and Jeremy L. Marshall

New Eyes on the World: Advanced Sensors for Ecology.
John H. Porter, Eric Nagy, Timothy K. Kratz, Paul Hanson, Scott Collins, and Peter Arzberger
Ecological Facilitation May Drive Major Evolutionary Transitions.
Zaal Kikvidze and Ragan M. Callaway
Climate Change and the World's "Sacred Sea"—Lake Baikal, Siberia.
Marianne V. Moore, Stephanie E. Hampton, Lyubov R. Izmest'eva, Eugene A. Silow, Ekaterina V. Peshkova, and Boris K. Pavlov
Motivating Online Publication of Data.
Mark J. Costello
The Creationist Down the Hall: Does in Matter When Teachers Teach Creationism?
Randy Moore and Sehoya Cotner

Jennifer Williams | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.aibs.org

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Study shines light on brain cells that coordinate movement
26.06.2017 | University of Washington Health Sciences/UW Medicine

nachricht New insight into a central biological dogma on ion transport
26.06.2017 | Aarhus University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Study shines light on brain cells that coordinate movement

26.06.2017 | Life Sciences

Smooth propagation of spin waves using gold

26.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Switchable DNA mini-machines store information

26.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>