Deep-sea biodiversity impacted by climate change's triple threat

Deep-sea biodiversity impacted by climate change's triple threat
Scripps scientists Lisa Levin and Carlos Neira preparing a sediment coring instrument for deployment on the seafloor. Credit: Scripps Oceanography/Christina Frieder

A new study found that vulnerability of deep-sea biodiversity to climate change's triple threat - rising water temperatures, and decreased oxygen, and pH levels - is not uniform across the world's oceans.

The analysis by researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at University of California San Diego used responses to natural variation in temperature, oxygen, and pH to reveal that deep-sea biodiversity from Baja California to San Francisco may be highly susceptible to projected changes in the future.

Climate change is often thought of as a single environmental threat from increases in atmospheric CO2. However, multiple climate stressors, from ocean warming and acidification to low oxygen levels, are expected to result in cumulative impacts on . The deep ocean, which covers more than 60 percent of Earth's surface, is a at increased risk from .

The National Science Foundation-funded study, published in the April 27 issue of the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, looked at how marine communities change across natural gradients to better understand the influence of the three climate stressors.

"These stressors are often under-appreciated threats to diversity and ecosystem health," said Scripps biological oceanographer Lisa Levin, the senior author of the study. "Yet, they raise questions about whether, and how, populations will adapt and which stressors are the primary drivers."

To untangle the impacts that these three climate stressors will have on seafloor diversity in the future, the researchers examined existing published data and collected new data on organisms living in deep-sea sediments in upwelling regions along continental margins, where the ocean and continental crusts meet along the seafloor. The researchers found that organisms from each ocean basin had its own unique threshold for the level and type of stressor it could tolerate.

The researchers found that diversity of marine life in the eastern Pacific Ocean is highly sensitive to declining , while CO2 levels were of importance to biodiversity in the Indian Ocean. Oxygen levels are falling throughout the world's oceans, and the decline is expected to have the greatest impact to biodiversity in the eastern Pacific Ocean.

"Global change affects so many different environmental aspects, and across such a range of conditions, that it can be difficult to study in the laboratory," said Erik Sperling, assistant professor of geological sciences at Stanford's School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences, lead author of the study, which was conducted while he was a postdoctoral researcher at Scripps. "In some sense nature has already run these experiments on continental margins, where sharp natural environmental gradients exist."

Continental margins cover over 11 percent of the world's oceans. They are considered biodiversity hotspots and play a major role in supporting commercially important fisheries. They are also considered the largest "carbon sink" of atmospheric carbon dioxide on Earth.

The results from the study can help better identify areas under the most stress, and to predict the regions most susceptible to future climate change.


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More information: Erik A. Sperling et al, Biodiversity response to natural gradients of multiple stressors on continental margins, Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences (2016). DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2016.0637
Provided by University of California - San Diego
Citation: Deep-sea biodiversity impacted by climate change's triple threat (2016, April 27) retrieved 14 October 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2016-04-deep-sea-biodiversity-impacted-climate-triple.html
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Apr 27, 2016
It has been colder (4th and 5th Century CE; Little Ice Age) and warmer (Viking Era) than now in historical times, well before the Industrial Revolution. The hockey stick is a contrived falsehood.

Apr 28, 2016
It has been colder (4th and 5th Century CE; Little Ice Age) and warmer (Viking Era) than now in historical times, well before the Industrial Revolution. The hockey stick is a contrived falsehood.


Climate change is as old as Earth. Life adapts and survives.


I can't wait to hear how either of those comments relate to this article. #batedbreath


Apr 28, 2016
It has been colder (4th and 5th Century CE; Little Ice Age) and warmer (Viking Era) than now in historical times, well before the Industrial Revolution.
I can't wait to hear how either of those comments relate to this article.
They don't, but they copy paste to every article mentioning climate. In theory, they'll eventually find an article that it applies to....

Apr 28, 2016
For Humans to survive future climate change we will have to adapt and innovate.

Or we could just make it easy on ourselves and not screw up the climate?
I'm all for tech and science - but this type of blind belief in future technology and that "innovation can fix everything" is just insane.

Even if man burned nothing on Earth, the climate would still change and we have to change with it like all life.

OK...let's get the stupid out of this sentence:
Climate change happens: yes
Climate change currently happens at a VERY fast rate. Adaptation of humans (and other life) requires time. The current rate does not give us (much less other life) that time. Does that spell it out to you?

Apr 28, 2016
I can't wait to hear how either of those comments relate to this article. #batedbreath

Uh huh. While you wait, perhaps we can hear what your lies relate to.
The predictions for hurricanes and cyclones were for LESS of larger MAGNITUDE.

#batedbreath

Apr 28, 2016
Climate change currently happens at a VERY fast rate.

Unfortunately we can't get the stupid out of you. Keep parroting the same unsubstantiated crap that has been fed to you by your cult.

May 05, 2016
Alien civilizations may be avoiding contact with humans because they are too polite to
call humans stupid when 99% of human scientists believe in climate change while manipulating climate data to create supporting evidence.

May 07, 2016
Climate change currently happens at a VERY fast rate.

Unfortunately we can't get the stupid out of you. Keep parroting the same unsubstantiated crap that has been fed to you by your cult.


no cult,only scientific evidence, on the other hand, we have a monkey aka you that the bush can't be taken out, stuck in front of a pc, hitting the same knobs everyday.

May 07, 2016
I can't wait to hear how either of those comments relate to this article. #batedbreath

Uh huh. While you wait, perhaps we can hear what your lies relate to.
The predictions for hurricanes and cyclones were for LESS of larger MAGNITUDE.

#batedbreath

What lies, you talking about your lies of course, you can't prove a word you say and you cannot disprove scientific evidence, i smell I R baboon passing by... ;)

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