Limpets reveal possible fate of cold-blooded Antarctic animals

Jul 23, 2007

A limpet no bigger than a coin could reveal the possible fate of cold-blooded Antarctic marine animals according to new research published this week in The Journal of Experimental Biology.

Compared to their temperate and tropical cousins, cold-blooded polar marine animals are incapable of fast growth. Until now scientists assumed that a lack of food in winter was the major limiting factor. Studies of the protein-making abilities of limpets in both the sea around the British Antarctic Survey’s (BAS) Rothera Research Station and in the laboratory aquarium reveal that these animals cannot make proteins – the building blocks of growth - efficiently.

Lead author Dr Keiron Fraser from BAS says, “This is an important step forward in our understanding of the complex biodiversity of Antarctica’s unique ecosystem. Sea temperature is predicted to increase by around 2°C in the next 100 years. If cold-blooded Antarctic animals can’t grow efficiently, or increase their growth rates, they are unlikely to be able to cope in warmer water, or compete with species that will inevitably move into the region as temperatures rise.”

Growth in animals occurs primarily by making and retaining proteins. While tropical water limpets typically retain 70% of the proteins they make, those in the Antarctic appear only to retain about 20%.

Source: British Antarctic Survey

Explore further: Birds 'weigh' peanuts and choose heavier ones

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Birds 'weigh' peanuts and choose heavier ones

2 hours ago

Many animals feed on seeds, acorns or nuts. The common feature of these are that they have shells and there is no direct way to know what's inside. How do the animals know how much and what quality of food ...

Q&A: Why are antibiotics used in livestock?

17 hours ago

Wal-Mart, the world's biggest retailer, is the latest company to ask its suppliers to curb the use of antibiotics in farm animals. Here's a rundown of what's driving the decision: ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.