Navigation Links
Hidden effects of climate change may threaten eelgrass meadows

Some research has shown that the effects of changes in the climate may be weak or even non-existent. This makes it easy to conclude that climate change will ultimately have less impact than previous warnings have predicted. But it could also be explained as direct and indirect effects cancelling each other out, as scientists from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, show in a paper recently published in PNAS, the esteemed US scientific journal.

To investigate how different climate impacts interact, an experiment was conducted at Kristineberg Marine Research Station.

"We raised the water temperature in miniature ecosystems containing eelgrass meadows, while simultaneously bubbling with carbon-dioxide. This allowed us to simulate a future climate scenario, characterized by both warmer waters and ocean acidification", explains researcher Christian Alsterberg.

Eelgrass meadows grow in shallow coastal waters and are among the most productive ecosystems in the sea. These meadows are now threatened, not only by climate change but also by overfishing and eutrophication.

"By studying eelgrass meadows on a ecosystem level, we were able to observe how plants and animals interact under changing climatic conditions. This also allowed us to measure the indirect effects, meaning the effects of climate change on an animal or a plant mediated through another organism."

For example, the metabolism of many crustaceans that live in eelgrass meadows increases when the water temperature rises. This in turn means they need to eat more algae and may consequently graze it more efficiently. At the same time, the growth of benthic microalgae on the sediment surface in the eelgrass meadows will be more vigorous.

Using statistical methods that separates direct and indirect effects, the researchers were able to discern how higher water temperature combined with ocean acidification affects not just individual species but also interactions between species in the ecosystem.

The researchers found that the effects are largely determined by the presence or absence of different fauna, primarily small algae-eating crustaceans. The net effect of changes in temperature and ocean acidification on benthic microalgae is non-existent if there are crustaceans in the ecosystem. But in the absence of crustaceans, the amount of benthic algae is largely controlled by positive and negative direct and indirect effects of higher temperatures and acidification.

The results showed that, without small algae-eating crustaceans in the eelgrass meadows, climate change could pose a much greater threat to their survival.

"The experiment also taught us the importance of investigating climate change using several different approaches, in order to fully understand its effects and to predict future impacts", says Christian Alsterberg.


Contact: Christian Alsterberg
University of Gothenburg

Related biology news :

1. Hidden layer of genome unveils how plants may adapt to environments throughout the world
2. Microbiologists eavesdrop on the hidden lives of microbes
3. Immune system molecule with hidden talents
4. MBL scientists to explore hidden realm of microbes, viruses beneath the ocean floor
5. Hidden secrets in the worlds most northerly rainforests
6. Blowing in the wind: How hidden flower features are crucial for bees
7. Elephant seal tracking reveals hidden lives of deep-diving animals
8. First satellite tag study for manta rays reveals habits and hidden journeys of ocean giants
9. Fish oil may stall effects of junk food on brain
10. Study examines effects of genetic variants for infants with neonatal abstinence syndrome
11. Olympic Coast Sanctuary report is first step in addressing effects of climate change
Post Your Comments:
(Date:4/13/2017)... , April 13, 2017 UBM,s Advanced ... will feature emerging and evolving technology through ... Innovation Summits will run alongside the expo portion of ... sessions, panels and demonstrations focused on trending topics within ... advanced design and manufacturing event will take place June ...
(Date:4/11/2017)... April 11, 2017 No two people ... at the New York University Tandon School of ... have found that partial similarities between prints are ... in mobile phones and other electronic devices can ... The vulnerability lies in the fact that fingerprint-based ...
(Date:4/5/2017)... -- Today HYPR Corp. , leading innovator in ... the HYPR platform is officially FIDO® Certified . ... that empowers biometric authentication across Fortune 500 enterprises and ... 15 million users across the financial services industry, however ... suites and physical access represent a growing portion of ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... October 12, 2017 , ... ... publication of a United States multicenter, prospective clinical study that demonstrates the ... diagnostic test capable of identifying clinically significant acute bacterial and viral respiratory ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... October 11, 2017 , ... ... Andi Purple announced Dr. Suneel I. Sheikh, the co-founder, CEO and chief research ... Inc. has been selected for membership in ARCS Alumni Hall of Fame ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... , ... October 11, 2017 , ... ... announced today it will be hosting a Webinar titled, “Pathology is going digital. ... Associates , on digital pathology adoption best practices and how Proscia improves lab ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... October 11, 2017 , ... A new study ... in frozen and fresh in vitro fertilization (IVF) transfer cycles. The ... IVF success. , After comparing the results from the fresh and frozen transfer ...
Breaking Biology Technology: