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
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
Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.
Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...
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...
09.11.2018 | Event News
06.11.2018 | Event News
23.10.2018 | Event News
16.11.2018 | Health and Medicine
16.11.2018 | Life Sciences
16.11.2018 | Life Sciences