As the Arctic Ocean warms this century, shellfish, snails and other animals from the Pacific Ocean will resume an invasion of the northern Atlantic that was interrupted by cooling conditions three million years ago, predict Geerat Vermeij, professor of geology at the University of California, Davis, and Peter Roopnarine at the California Academy of Sciences.
Climate models predict a nearly ice-free Arctic Ocean by 2050. That will restore conditions that last existed during the mid-Pliocene era around three to 3.5 million years ago. Several north Pacific species have relatives in the north Atlantic, and the fossil record shows a lot of invasion from the Pacific to the Atlantic at that time, Vermeij said.
When cold conditions returned, the Arctic route was cut off, mostly by a lack of food. As the ice melts, productivity in the Arctic will rise and the northward march of the mollusks will resume where it left off three million years ago.
Vermeij and Roopnarine reviewed literature on mollusks found in the Bering and Chuckchi seas between Alaska and eastern Siberia. At least 77 molluscan lineages, about a third of the species of shallow-water shellfish in the Bering Sea, have the potential to spread to the Atlantic, they concluded.
Three factors drove the one-way traffic across the North Pole during the Pliocene, Vermeij said. The Bering and Chukchi seas are very productive, with abundant food; there is a net northward flow of water from the Pacific through the Bering Strait; and strong competition in the Bering Sea means bigger, tougher animals.
But the invaders will not wipe out native species, Vermeij said. The fossil record shows that invasions rarely lead to species extinction in marine environments, he said. Instead, the invasion will add new species and hybrids and increase competition in the North Atlantic.
"The composition and dynamics of north Atlantic communities will change," Roopnarine said. "But whether that will help or harm local fisheries is an open question. Humans may have to adapt as well."
In the paper, Vermeij and Roopnarine note that in the past, species expanded their ranges within and between oceans during warm periods.
"The interesting thing to me is that the fossil record has something to say about the consequences of global warming," Vermeij said.
Andy Fell | EurekAlert!
Despite government claims, orangutan populations have not increased. Call for better monitoring
06.11.2018 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Increasing frequency of ocean storms could alter kelp forest ecosystems
30.10.2018 | University of Virginia
Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.
Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...
Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.
In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...
On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.
When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure
Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...
Physicists at ETH Zurich demonstrate how errors that occur during the manipulation of quantum system can be monitored and corrected on the fly
The field of quantum computation has seen tremendous progress in recent years. Bit by bit, quantum devices start to challenge conventional computers, at least...
09.11.2018 | Event News
06.11.2018 | Event News
23.10.2018 | Event News
13.11.2018 | Life Sciences
13.11.2018 | Life Sciences
13.11.2018 | Awards Funding