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 One step closer to reality
20.04.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Entwicklungsbiologie

nachricht The dark side of cichlid fish: from cannibal to caregiver
20.04.2018 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

Im Focus: Basel researchers succeed in cultivating cartilage from stem cells

Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.

Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...

Im Focus: Like a wedge in a hinge

Researchers lay groundwork to tailor drugs for new targets in cancer therapy

In the fight against cancer, scientists are developing new drugs to hit tumor cells at so far unused weak points. Such a “sore spot” is the protein complex...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Magnetic nano-imaging on a table top

20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Start of work for the world's largest electric truck

20.04.2018 | Interdisciplinary Research

Atoms may hum a tune from grand cosmic symphony

20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>