Researchers find animal with ability to survive climate change

Sep 24, 2008

Queen's researchers have found that the main source of food for many fish - including cod - in the North Atlantic appears to adapt in order to survive climate change.

Billions of Calanus finmarchicus, a plankton species, which are just a few millimetres in size, live in the waters of the North Atlantic where the research was carried out.

It showed they responded to global warming after the last Ice Age, around 18,000 years ago, by moving north and maintaining large population sizes and also suggests that these animals might be able to track the current change in habitat.

The effect of global climate change on the planet's ecosystems is one of the key issues scientists are currently focussing on and the research has been published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, a publication of the national academy of science of the UK and the Commonwealth, today.

One of the main predicted effects of climate change is a forced shift in species' distribution range.

The study leader, Dr Jim Provan, from Queen's School of Biological Sciences, said the discovery that that a species has a feature which helps it cope with global warming is a rare example of good news.

"Our results, in contrast to previous studies, suggest that the species has been able to shift its distribution range in response to previous changes in the Earth's climate, and thus 'track' the effects of climate change, a feature which may be of crucial importance in its survival.

"The genetic variability of the species - the tendency of the genetic make-up of a population to vary from one individual to another - has remained high, which is good news, and suggests that these animals might be able to track the current change in habitat resulting from global warming and maintain viable population sizes.

"If the species couldn't, it might become extinct and thus threaten the fish species that depend upon it for food.

"It might be a rare example of news that may not be doom-and-gloom with respect to climate change, but it doesn't mean that we don't have to keep watching what happens."

Previous work on the species had indicated a serious drop in numbers and decreases in population size may be reflected in decreases in genetic variability.

This can compromise the adaptive potential of the populations for the future and possibly result in extinction.

As a result of the Queen's findings the team is planning further work to see how the study applies to rapid global warming over the last few decades.

Source: Queen's University Belfast

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4 / 5 (11) Sep 24, 2008
What?? Animals adapting to the environment??? Never. They're all destined to die as soon as CO2 gets 0.01% higher. Or am I missing something.
2.7 / 5 (6) Sep 24, 2008
yes you do. Animals do adapt but have their limits ,climate change is expected to cause"forced shift in species' distribution range".

That means the deck of desired conditions for species gets reshuffled and some species will get shitty cards and are not able to compete with species who got the better cards.

This is happening all the time as its a changing world.When there are sudden changes species with very specialised treats will be likely to be outcompeted by invading species with more general treats as they are better equipped to handle the changing conditions.

Many scientists believe thats whats happening already, altough there are other mechainisms to explain the unusual rate of extinctions, like loss of habitat and the spread of non indigenous species trough human interference.
3 / 5 (7) Sep 24, 2008
The headline: "Researchers find animal with ability to survive climate change" is childish "the sky is falling" journalism designed to frighten and bolster the "humans are bad" religion. Climate change is and has been ongoing since the earth formed - in nature nothing is static. Species survive and evolve others die out because they can't adapt or compete. It has always been that way.

As top dog, humans are clearly accelerating this change by altering and improving OUR physical environment. To make the judgment that what humans are doing is "bad" based on a snapshot of "today" is silly, shortsighted, and highly egocentric. (An excellent example of jumping to judgment while "in-process" is the lauding of Greenspan, and his elevation to near god status, during his reign as Fed chairman whereas in hindsight it now appears that his policies are the root cause of the financial mess we are now in)

What would the world be like if there has been no mass extinction 65 million yrs ago? The top dog today would likely be highly intelligent and covered w/ scales AND probably much more technologically advanced than we are today because they would have had many millions of yrs. head start.
3.3 / 5 (7) Sep 24, 2008
Look in the mirror and see an animal that has adapted to climate changes quite well.
He doesn't even need a natural climate to survive.
2 / 5 (4) Sep 24, 2008
Look in the mirror and see an animal that has adapted to climate changes quite well.
He doesn't even need a natural climate to survive.

Define "natural climate". I figure any day I wake up has natural climate 8-)
4.4 / 5 (5) Sep 24, 2008
What?? Animals adapting to the environment??? Never. They're all destined to die as soon as CO2 gets 0.01% higher. Or am I missing something.

Well, yeah, you are. Probably on purpose to make a rhetorical point.

The simpler an organism and the simpler its needs, the easier it will be to adapt to new environments. Contrast plankton, which (mostly) just need sunlight and some basic chemicals, with Koala bears, which feed only on one specific species of tree leaf (Eucalyptus). Guess which one would adapt better to changes in climate? In the case of the Koala, if the Eucalyptus goes, they go. End of story. In the case of the plankton, move north or south until the level of sunlight is ok again. Kind of like senior citizens, come to think of it.
3.2 / 5 (5) Sep 24, 2008
The year is 200,000,000 A.D.

Humans, long ago fearing for the fragile billions-year-old survivor that is their planet's ecosystem, have removed themselves to carefully sealed off bio-domes all across the earth to save poor Gaia from the depradations of their evil, unnatural kind.

Unfortunately, the domes fail, and the remaining Eco-Warriors, owing to their disdain for technology and its advancement, realize they have no idea how to fix their doomed habitat, and are forced to make a go of it on the outside...

...only to find that over the ages, their evolution has diverged so much from the outside "natural" world, they choke to death on the planetary atmosphere.
4.2 / 5 (5) Sep 24, 2008
The year is 3,000,000,000 A.D. The sun, having exhausted all of it's supply of hydrogen fuel has ballooned into a red giant and has just engulfed the mostly lifeless, airless husk of the earth in it's outer photosphere. In several thousand years the heat and abrasive buffetting from orbiting in the atmosphere of it's dying sun will have reduced the earth to nothing more than a few gigaton lumps of molten and evaporating iron.

Stupid stupid environmentalists... After mankind has died out the earth will go on for millions of years with plentiful life and a variety of species we cannot even imagine. Get over yourselves, you're no more important in the geological scale of the earth than the Diplodicus or Australopithicus Gigantus was...
5 / 5 (2) Sep 24, 2008
Any species can adapt to a new environment through selective breeding and evolution.

The simpler the organism, the easier it is. These alarmist articles are getting a little out of hand.
2.3 / 5 (3) Sep 24, 2008
Actually Qubit I've read we have less than 600 million years to live as a biosphere. The sun is slooooowly but surely getting brighter and brighter as it ages....we're "almost" at the end of the line.

All life will be gone long before the sun reaches it's red giant phase.
5 / 5 (1) Sep 24, 2008
Actually Qubit I've read we have less than 600 million years to live as a biosphere.

Oh, way to go! You've just started another market panic.
1 / 5 (2) Sep 24, 2008
... the Diplodicus or Australopithicus Gigantus was...

QubitTamer, do you mean ....the Diplodicus was or Australopithicus Gigantus is...????

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