Navigation Links
Age matters to Antarctic clams

A new study of Antarctic clams reveals that age matters when it comes to adapting to the effects of climate change. The research provides new insight and understanding of the likely impact of predicted environmental change on future ocean biodiversity.

Reporting this week in the journal Global Change Biology scientists from British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and from Germany's University of Kiel and the Alfred Wegener Institute reveal that when it comes to environmental change the reaction of Antarctic clams (laternula elliptica) a long-lived and abundant species that lives in cold, oxygen-rich Antarctic waters is different depending on how old the animal is.

The study showed that whilst young clams (average of three years old) try to move to a better area in the sea-bed sediments when they sense warmer temperature or reduced oxygen levels, the older (18 years old) more sedentary clams stay put. This has implications for future clam populations because it is the older animals that reproduce. Scientists anticipate that future oceans will be slightly warmer and contains less oxygen (a condition known as hypoxia).

Lead Author Dr Melody Clark of British Antarctic Survey said,

"Antarctic clams play a vital role in the ocean ecosystem. They draw down carbon into sea-bed sediments and circulate ocean nutrients. We know that they are extremely sensitive to their environment. Our study suggests that the numbers of clams that will survive a changing climate will reduce.

"The Polar Regions are the Earth's early warning system and Antarctica is a great natural laboratory to study to future global change. These small and rather uncharismatic animals can tell us a lot about age and survival in a changing world they are one of the 'engines of the ocean'."

Co-author, Eva Phillip, from the University of Kiel, says:

"The study shows that it is important to investigate different ages of a population to understand population wide changes and responses. In respect to Antarctic clams it has been indicated in previous studies that older individuals may suffer more severely in a changing environment and the new study corroborates this assumption. Only the investigation of population-wide effects makes it possible to draw conclusions for coastal ecosystems."

Like humans, clams' muscle mass decreases as they get older. This means they get more sedentary. So when changes are introduced into their habitat, the older clams tend to just sit it out until conditions revert back to normal.

Doris Abele of the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany says:

"Our study shows that the physiological flexibility of young clams diminishes as they get older. However, the species has evolved in such a way that the fittest animals, that can tolerate life in an extreme environment, survive to reproduce into old age. Climatic change, affecting primarily the older clams, may interfere with this evolutionary strategy, with unpredictable consequences for ecosystems all around Antarctica."


Contact: Paul Holland
British Antarctic Survey

Related biology news :

1. How belly fat differs from thigh fat -- and why it matters
2. Probing matters of the heart
3. For the rooster, size matters
4. Size matters: Large Marine Protected Areas work for dolphins
5. Antarcticas first whale skeleton found with 9 new deep-sea species
6. Antarcticas first whale skeleton found with nine new deep-sea species
7. Antarctic soil researcher awarded prestigious 2013 Tyler Environmental Prize
8. Antarctic and Arctic insects use different genetic mechanisms to cope with lack of water
9. Data paper describes Antarctic biodiversity data gathered by 90 expeditions since 1956
10. Shimmering water reveals cold volcanic vent in Antarctic waters
11. Antarctic ice core contains unrivaled detail of past climate
Post Your Comments:
(Date:10/29/2015)... , Oct. 29, 2015   MedNet Solutions ... the entire spectrum of clinical research, is pleased to ... High Tech Association (MHTA) as one of only three ... the "Software – Small and Growing" category. The Tekne Awards ... who have shown superior technology innovation and leadership. ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... 2015  Connected health pioneer, Joseph C. Kvedar ... technology-enabled health and wellness, and the business opportunities that ... The Internet of Healthy Things . Long before ... existed, Dr. Kvedar, vice president, Connected Health, Partners HealthCare, ... moving care from the hospital or doctor,s office into ...
(Date:10/27/2015)... October 27, 2015 Munich, ... Gaze Mapping technology (ASGM) automatically maps data from mobile ... Glasses , so that they can be quantitatively ... Munich, Germany , October 28-29, 2015. ... data from mobile eye tracking videos created with ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/25/2015)... CITY , Nov. 25, 2015 /PRNewswire/ - Aeterna ... affirms that its business and prospects remain fundamentally ... , Zoptrex™ (zoptarelin doxorubicin) recently received DSMB recommendation ... to completion following review of the final interim ... Phase 2 Primary Endpoint in men with heavily ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... 25, 2015 Orexigen® Therapeutics, Inc. (Nasdaq: ... a fireside chat discussion at the Piper Jaffray 27th ... . The discussion is scheduled for Wednesday, December 2, ... .  A replay will be available for 14 days ... , Julie NormartVP, Corporate Communications and Business Development , ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... Jessica Richman and ... early in their initial angel funding process. Now, they are paying it forward ... make early stage investments in the microbiome space. In this, they join ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... 24, 2015 , ... The United States Golf Association (USGA) today announced Dr. ... Award. Presented annually since 1961, the USGA Green Section Award recognizes an individual’s distinguished ... , Clarke, of Iselin, N.J., is an extension specialist of turfgrass pathology in ...
Breaking Biology Technology: