Navigation Links
New species discovered on whale skeletons
Date:9/21/2009

When a whale dies, it sinks to the seafloor and becomes food for an entire ecosystem. Researchers at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, have discovered previously unknown species that feed only on dead whales - and use DNA technology to show that the species diversity in our oceans may be higher than previously thought.

Dead whales constitute an unpredictable food source - it is impossible to know when and where a whale is going to die, and when it does, the food source does not last forever. Nevertheless, some marine species have specialised in feeding on whale cadavers.

Big source of nutrients

This is shown by researchers at the University of Gothenburg who have studied the ecosystem around dead whales using underwater cameras. A dead whale is an enormous source of nutrients. In fact, one cadaver offers the same amount of nutrients that normally sinks from the surface to the seafloor in 2000 years, and this is of great benefit to innumerable species: First the meat is eaten by for example sharks and hagfish, then tremendous amounts of various organisms come to feast on the skeleton.

Specialised worms

One group of animals commonly found on whale skeletons is bristleworms, which are related to the earthworm. Some bristleworm species are so specialised in eating dead whales they would have problems surviving elsewhere. One example is Osedax, which uses its root system to penetrate the whale bones when searching for food. Other species specialise in eating the thick layers of bacteria that quickly form around the bones.

Nine new species

A dissertation from the Department of Zoology at the University of Gothenburg describes no fewer than nine previously unknown species of these bacteria-grazing bristleworms.

Cryptic species

Four of the new species were found on whale cadavers placed at a depth of 125 metres in the new national park Kosterhavet off the coast of Strmstad, Sweden. The other five species feed on whale bones in the deep waters off the coast of California, USA. The family tree of bristleworms was explored using molecular data. The DNA analyses show that there are several so-called cryptic bristleworm species, meaning species that despite looking identical differ very much genetically.

Significant findings

The analyses show that the adaptation to a life on whale cadavers has occurred in species from different evolutionary paths and at several points in time. The study also shows that some species that are assumed to inhabit many different areas globally, so-called cosmopolitan species, may in fact be cryptic species. This finding may be very significant for our understanding of how animals spread around the world and of how many different species dwell on our planet.


'/>"/>

Contact: Krister Svahn
krister.svahn@science.gu.se
46-031-786-4912
University of Gothenburg
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Genetic sex determination let ancient species adapt to ocean life
2. As ash borer claims more trees, researcher at ISU works for species survival
3. Species diversity helps ASU researchers refine analyses of human gene mutations
4. Global warming threatens tropical species, the ecosystem and its by-products
5. Scientists discover new species of crustacean on Lanzarote
6. Genome duplication responsible for more plant species than previously thought
7. Beautiful plumage: Feather color and sex start the species revolution
8. Red List overlooks island species
9. A global model for the origin of species independent of geographical isolation
10. Mystery E. coli genes essential for survival of many species
11. US-Mexico border wall could threaten wildlife species
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
New species discovered on whale skeletons
(Date:2/3/2016)... --> --> Fourth quarter 2015:   ... compared with fourth quarter of 2014. Gross margin was 46% ... Earnings per share increased to SEK 6.39 (loss: 0.49). ... , --> --> January ... (233.6), up 1,142% compared with 2014. Gross margin was 43% ...
(Date:2/3/2016)... Calif. , Feb. 3, 2016 Vigilant ... Police Department in Missouri ... license plate reader (LPR) data from Vigilant Solutions. ... hit-and-run case in which the victim was walking out of a convenience ... parking space next to his vehicle, striking his vehicle ...
(Date:2/2/2016)... 2016  BioMEMS devices deployed in hospitals ... medical screening and diagnostic applications, such as ... that facilitate and assure continuous monitoring without ... being bolstered through new opportunities offered by ... coupled with wireless connectivity and low power ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/11/2016)... ... February 11, 2016 , ... Global ... treatment clinic in Quito, Ecuador. The new facility will provide advanced protocols and ... from around the world. , The new GSCG clinic is headed by ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... , Feb. 10, 2016  The Maryland House ... , has announced that University of Maryland School of ... MBA and University of Maryland Medical System President and ... the "Speaker,s Medallion," the highest honor given to the ... Delegates. Dean Reece and Mr. Chrencik ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... ... February 10, 2016 , ... ... that it has joined the Human Vaccines Project, a public-private partnership to ... cancer. , The Human Vaccines Project brings together leading pharmaceutical and ...
(Date:2/10/2016)...  Matchbook, Inc., a company specializing in procurement ... announced today the appointment of Jim Shuman ... nearly 25 years of experience in supply chain, ... two decades in executive level roles as the ... and, most recently headed global logistics and procurement ...
Breaking Biology Technology: