Navigation Links
Global warming threatens Antarctic sea life

MELBOURNE, FLA.Climate change is about to cause a major upheaval in the shallow marine waters of Antarctica. Predatory crabs are poised to return to warming Antarctic waters and disrupt the primeval marine communities.

"Nowhere else than in these ecosystems do giant sea spiders and marine pillbugs share the ocean bottom with fish that have antifreeze proteins in their blood," says Rich Aronson, professor of biological sciences at Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, Fla. "The shell-cracking crabs, fish, sharks and rays that dominate bottom communities in temperate and tropical zones have been shut out of Antarctica for millions of years because it is simply too cold for them."

But this situation is about to change. "Populations of predatory king crabs are already living in deeper, slightly warmer water," says Aronson. "And increasing ship traffic is introducing exotic crab invaders. When ships dump their ballast water in the Antarctic seas, marine larvae from as far away as the Arctic are injected into the system."

Aronson and his colleagues published their results in the electronic journal PLoS ONE to coincide with the U.S. National Teach-In on Global Warming Solutions on Feb. 5.

Fast-moving, shell-crushing predators, dominant in most places, cannot operate in the icy waters of Antarctica. The only fish therethe ones with the antifreeze proteinseat small, shrimp-like crustaceans and other soft foods. The main bottom dwelling predators are slow-moving sea stars and giant, floppy ribbon worms.

To understand their history, Aronson and a team of paleontologists collected marine fossils at Seymour Island off the Antarctic Peninsula. Linda Ivany of Syracuse University reconstructed changes in the Antarctic climate from chemical signals preserved in ancient clamshells. As temperatures dropped about 41 million years ago and crabs and fish were frozen out, the slow-moving predators that remained could not keep up with their prey. Snails, once out of danger, gradually lost the spines and other shell armor they had evolved against crushing predators.

Antarctica's coastal waters are warming rapidly. Temperatures at the sea surface off the western Antarctic Peninsula went up 1C in the last 50 years, making it one of the fastest-warming regions of the World Ocean.

If the crab invasion succeeds, it will devastate Antarctica's spectacular fauna and fundamentally alter its ecological relationships. "That would be a tragic loss for biodiversity in one of the last truly wild places on earth," says Aronson. "Unless we can get control of ship traffic and greenhouse-gas emissions, climate change will ruin marine communities in Antarctica and make the world a sadder, duller place."


Contact: karen rhine
Florida Institute of Technology

Related biology news :

1. Global Warming and the Habitability of Planet Earth, Sept. 26
2. Green skies: Engineers work may reduce jet travels role in global warming
3. Scientists in first global study of poison gas in the atmosphere
4. North Americas northernmost lake affected by global warming
5. IEEE-USA innovation forum will help prepare US tech leaders to prosper in a global marketplace
6. Majority of Americans want local action on global warming, says poll
7. International team of scientists warns of climate changes impact on global river flow
8. Changing the global dietary environment
9. Global deal fuels QUTs world-changing research
10. NIH hosts event to launch Council of Science Editors global theme issue
11. Agricultural soil erosion is not adding to global warming
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/2/2015)... PARK, Calif. , Nov. 2, 2015  SRI ... $9 million to provide preclinical development services to the ... the contract, SRI will provide scientific expertise, modern testing ... wide variety of preclinical pharmacology and toxicology studies to ... --> The PREVENT Cancer Drug Development ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... 29, 2015  Rubicon Genomics, Inc., today announced ... of its DNA library preparation products, including the ... ThruPLEX Plasma-seq kit. ThruPLEX Plasma-seq has been optimized ... NGS libraries for liquid biopsies--the analysis of cell-free ... applications in cancer and other conditions. Eurofins Scientific ...
(Date:10/27/2015)... YORK , Oct. 27, 2015 In ... major issues of concern for various industry verticals such ... is due to the growing demand for secure & ... in various ,sectors, such as hacking of bank accounts, ... for electronic equipment such as PC,s, laptops, and smartphones ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/30/2015)... ... 30, 2015 , ... Global Stem Cells Group ... the Santiago Marriott. The Global Stem Cells Group GMP facility is equipped with ... qualified medical researchers and practitioners, experienced in administering stem cell protocols using highly ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... includes an MPP licen ... niversity , s Solid Drug Nanoparticle (SDN) Technology ; ... up through cost cuts of priority ... based anywhere in the world will have the right to make, use and distribute ... where licensees based anywhere in the world will have the right to make, use ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... 2015 Spherix Incorporated (Nasdaq: SPEX ... fostering and monetization of intellectual property, today provided ... designed to create shareholder value. ... "Based on published reports, the total addressable market ... and Spherix will seek to secure fair and ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... 30, 2015 TapImmune, Inc. ... of innovative peptide and gene-based immunotherapeutics and vaccines for ... it will be presenting at the 8 th ... at 2.30 PM PT. Dr. John N. Bonfiglio ... be giving the presentation and will join TapImmune management ...
Breaking Biology Technology: