Research: Climate change affecting mussel survival

Sep 02, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Warmer air and water temperatures along the U.S. East Coast are shrinking the geographic region where blue mussels can survive, according to findings by University of South Carolina researchers published in the August Journal of Biogeography.

Mytilus edulis, or blue , a popular seafood, used to live along the East Coast as far south as Cape Hatteras, N.C., but now exist only as far south as Lewes, Del., according to Sierra Jones, a Ph.D. student in the department of biological sciences at USC. Moreover, populations to the North experience higher rates of mortality than in the past.

Most plants and animals have geographic ranges defined by northern and southern limits. In many cases, ranges are thought to be controlled by temperature, and if it becomes too hot, the limits will shift. However, linking changes in geographic range to changes in climate is difficult unless long-term records in distribution are compared to equally long-term records of weather.

Jones and colleagues explored more than 300 miles of coastline to determine how changing temperatures affected survival of mussels in different latitudes.

The findings are significant because they show that recent is affecting the organisms along our coast.

“These mussels are a very important part of the food chain,” Jones said. “They help clean the water and are farmed commercially. If temperatures continue to increase, we can expect range changes of species like blue mussels to continue, and the health of our oceans is at risk.”

“Understanding the link between organism and environment is essential for making predictions of how future climate change will affect species and ,” Jones said. “Where organisms might be in the future is crucial to planning for marine reserves and the future of the fishing and aquaculture industries.”

Explore further: Norfolk Island's endangered Green Parrot numbers on the rise

Provided by University of South Carolina

3 /5 (4 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Too hot to handle: Impacts of climate change on mussels

Aug 16, 2010

Climate change is causing higher air and water temperatures along the east coast of the United States. These changes have shrunk the geographic region where blue mussels are able to survive, according to findings by University ...

Saving Space: Latitude’s not Enough

Nov 14, 2006

According to a recent study in Ecological Monographs, predicting the impact of climate change on organisms is much more complicated than simply looking at species northern and southern range limits.

Danes warned not to eat beach mussels

Jul 25, 2006

Danish environmental experts are warning people about the danger of eating mussels collected on beaches or off the coast of Denmark.

Environmental Change Impacts Oklahoma Rivers

Jan 25, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Biodiversity in freshwater systems is impacted as much or more by environmental change than tropical rain forests, according to University of Oklahoma Professor Caryn Vaughn, who serves as director of the ...

Recommended for you

Preserving crucial tern habitat in Long Island Sound

4 hours ago

Great Gull Island is home to one of the most important nesting habitats for Roseate and Common terns in the world. The estimated 1,300 pairs of Roseate terns that summer on the 17-acre island at the eastern ...

California's sea otter numbers holding steady

4 hours ago

When a sea otter wants to rest, it wraps a piece of kelp around its body to hold itself steady among the rolling waves. Likewise, California's sea otter numbers are holding steady despite many forces pushing ...

22 elephants poached in Mozambique in two weeks

18 hours ago

Poachers slaughtered 22 elephants in Mozambique in the first two weeks of September, environmentalists said Monday, warning that killing for ivory by organised syndicates was being carried out on an "industrialised" ...

Pakistan releases smuggled turtles into the wild

23 hours ago

Pakistani officials and environmentalists on Monday released some 200 rare turtles into the River Indus after the reptiles were retrieved from a southwestern Chinese town where they were seized by customs ...

User comments : 0