Navigation Links
King crab distributions limited by temperature in the Southern Ocean
Date:11/1/2010

Invasions of voracious predatory crabs due to global warming could threaten the unique continental-shelf ecosystems of Antarctica, according to newly published findings.

"King crabs are ecologically important predators and form the basis of economically significant commercial fisheries," said Dr Sven Thatje, an evolutionary ecologist at the University of Southampton's School of Ocean and Earth Science (SOES), which is based at the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton.

Thatje and graduate student Sally Hall studied how water temperature influences the distributions of king crab species in the Southern Ocean, which has some of the coldest waters on Earth.

King crabs are cold blooded, their body temperature being determined largely by that of the surrounding environment. Although many of them live in cold, deep-sea habitats, experiments have shown that their larvae fail to mature in water temperatures below around half a degree Celsius, even after only brief exposure.

"We tested the hypothesis that the king crab species of the Southern Ocean only thrive above a critical minimum temperature and that it is this thermal barrier that determines their biogeographical distributions in the Southern Ocean," said Thatje.

To do this, Thatje and Hall carefully studied the distribution of seventeen species of king crab living at depths between around 500 and 1600 metres in the Southern Ocean. They collated data from published records, museum collections, commercial fishing records, and reports from scientific research cruises. They then compared these records to water temperatures measured at a range of relevant depths and geographical latitudes.

Consistent with their hypothesis, they found that king crabs occur mostly at locations where the polar water temperature is relatively warm. The coldest waters in which king crabs have been found are between 0.4 and 0.5C in the Ross Sea, suggesting that this indeed represents a thermal barrier limiting king crab distributions.

In addition, the records showed that only two species are endemic to waters south of 60 degrees South, suggesting that particular physiological and reproductive adaptations are required for life in the most extreme environments.

The researchers found that gaps in king crab distributions largely coincide with regions of low water temperature, although there are some anomalous absences yet to be explained.

Their findings imply that even relatively small increases in water temperature due to global warming could lead to king crabs moving into new areas.

"Rapidly increasing water temperatures observed along the West Antarctic Peninsula could allow king crabs to spread from the slope of the peninsula to the continental shelf itself," explained Hall.

This could have considerable ecological consequences. King crabs are voracious predators that crush and then feed on their prey, but they and potentially competing predators such as sharks and rays and other predatory crustaceans are largely absent on the high-Antarctic continental shelves.

"The worry is that the sudden appearance of a new predator with few competitors could threaten isolated shelf communities such as those of the Bellingshausen Sea on the west side of the Antarctic Peninsula," said Hall.

The researchers believe that their study provides a baseline against which future changes in the distribution of king crabs expected under global warming can be compared.


'/>"/>

Contact: Dr. Rory Howlett
r.howlett@noc.soton.ac.uk
44-238-059-8490
National Oceanography Centre, Southampton (UK)
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Species distribution models are of only limited value for predicting future mammal distributions
2. Breakthrough reveals blood vessel cells are key to growing unlimited amounts of adult stem cells
3. Targeting children effective use of limited supplies of flu vaccine and could help control flu spread
4. Scientific evidence of health problems from past contamination of drinking water at Camp Lejeune is limited and unlikely to be resolved with further study
5. Keeping golf courses green when fresh water is limited
6. How to move agriculture forward with limited water
7. Carbon dioxide controls Earths temperature
8. Smithsonian reports regional sea temperature rise and coral bleaching event in Western Caribbean
9. Climate accord loopholes could spell 4.2-degree rise in temperature and end of coral reefs by 2100
10. FDA Clears Medivances Arctic Sun 5000 for Fastest, Easiest Therapeutic Temperature Management
11. Risk of beetle outbreaks rise, along with temperature, in the warming West
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
King crab distributions limited by temperature in the Southern Ocean
(Date:6/15/2016)... New York , June 15, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... a new market report titled "Gesture Recognition Market by ... and Forecast, 2016 - 2024". According to the report, ... USD 11.60 billion in 2015 and is estimated ... reach USD 48.56 billion by 2024.  ...
(Date:6/2/2016)... , June 2, 2016 The Department ... has awarded the 44 million US Dollar project, for the ... Vehicle Plates including Personalization, Enrolment, and IT Infrastructure , ... in the production and implementation of Identity Management Solutions. Numerous ... however Decatur was selected for the ...
(Date:5/20/2016)... 2016  VoiceIt is excited to announce its ... By working together, VoiceIt and VoicePass will ... VoicePass take slightly different approaches to voice biometrics, ... and usability. ... partnership. "This marketing and technology partnership ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... announce the launch of their brand, UP4™ Probiotics, into Target stores nationwide. The ... is proud to add Target to its list of well-respected retailers. This list ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 23, 2016 /PRNewswire/ - FACIT has announced the ... biotechnology company, Propellon Therapeutics Inc. ("Propellon" or ... of a portfolio of first-in-class WDR5 inhibitors for ... as WDR5 represent an exciting class of therapies, ... medicine for cancer patients. Substantial advances have been ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 2016 Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital has ... Association to serve as their official health care ... Willowbrook will provide sponsorship support, athletic training services, ... coaches, volunteers, athletes and families. "We ... Association and to bring Houston Methodist quality services ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... -- The Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) is pleased to announce 24 new ... prostate cancer. Members of the Class of 2016 were selected from a pool ... Read More About the Class of 2016 PCF Young Investigators ... ... ...
Breaking Biology Technology: