Invasive animals threaten natives as oceans heat up

Oct 13, 2010
Native and non-native animals, including orange sea squirts and brown bryozoans, cover an experimental plate after six weeks in the waters of Bodega Bay. (Cascade Sorte/UC Davis photo)

Warmer oceans promote invasive animals and threaten natives, say UC Davis marine biologists who report striking new evidence from the eastern Pacific fishing harbor of Bodega Bay, Calif.

For 50 years, researchers at the university's Bodega Marine Laboratory have been monitoring plant and in the bay, said study co-author Susan Williams, a UC Davis professor of evolution and ecology and an expert on near-shore ecosystems. In that time, water temperatures have climbed more than 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit, and there are now twice as many nonnative species as there are natives.

To better understand what continued warming might mean for this and other saltwater communities, the UC Davis researchers recently studied so-called "fouling organisms" -- the squishy or prickly creatures that live on rocks, docks, boat hulls, seawater pipelines and shellfish farms.

The biologists carried these bryozoans (also called moss animals) and tunicates (sea squirts) from Bodega Bay to their laboratories, where they measured the creatures' tolerance to the higher water temperatures that have been predicted by climate scientists.

"We determined that introduced species tolerated significantly higher temperatures than natives," Williams said. "Our results strongly suggest that, as continue to increase, in this system will decrease in abundance, whereas introduced species are likely to increase."

Explore further: Culprit identified in decline of endangered Missouri River pallid sturgeon

More information: The research was described in the journals Ecology (August) and Oikos (online, July; print, in press).

Related Stories

Climate Change Alters Base of Tahoe Food Web

Sep 29, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- UC Davis researchers at Lake Tahoe this week published the first evidence that climate change alters the makeup of tiny plant communities called algae, which are the very foundation of the ...

Fast-growing kelp invades San Francisco Bay

Jul 10, 2009

(AP) -- A fast-growing kelp from the Far East has spread along the California coast from Los Angeles to San Francisco Bay, worrying marine scientists and outpacing eradication efforts.

Invasive 'tunicate' appears in Oregon's coastal waters

May 13, 2010

An aggressive, invasive aquatic organism that is on the state's most dangerous species list has been discovered in both Winchester Bay and Coos Bay, and scientists say this "colonial tunicate" - Didemnum ve ...

On 'Earth week,' world is no longer our oyster

Apr 20, 2010

The world is no longer our oyster. As we prepare to celebrate Earth Day on April 22, we can add another species, one of widespread ecological and economic importance, to the list of the beleaguered.

Recommended for you

Obama recommends extended wilderness zone in Alaska

4 hours ago

US President Barack Obama said Sunday he would recommend a large swath of Alaska be designated as wilderness, the highest level of federal protection, in a move likely to anger oil proponents.

Uganda seizes massive ivory and pangolin haul

6 hours ago

Ugandan wildlife officers have seized a huge haul of elephant ivory and pangolin scales, representing the deaths of hundreds of endangered animals, police said Sunday.

The elephant poaching business in numbers

13 hours ago

From the pittance paid to local poachers to a multi-billion dollar industry, here are some of the key numbers related to Africa's endangered elephants:

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.