Nav: Home

Warmer and acidified oceans can lead to 'hidden' changes in species behavior

January 20, 2020

Projected ocean warming and acidification not only impacts the behaviour of individual species but also the wider marine ecosystems which are influenced by them, a new study shows.

Research published in Nature Climate Change shows that in warmer seawater with lower pH, a common clam - the peppery furrow shell (Scrobicularia plana) - makes considerable changes to its feeding habits.

Instead of relying predominantly on food from within the water column, it changed its behaviour to use its tube-like feeding siphon to scrape more of its food from the seafloor.

This in turn led to surface-dwelling invertebrates showing greater tolerance to warming and acidification, most likely due to the stimulatory effect of the clam's altered feeding on their microalgal food resources.

The study was conducted by researchers at Ghent University (Belgium), University of Plymouth (UK) and University of South Carolina (USA).

They say it demonstrates that changes in ocean conditions can significantly alter the interaction network among porewater nutrients, primary producers, herbivores and burrowing invertebrates.

They also highlight that mechanistic insights into non-lethal climate change effects are urgently needed to improve the understanding of ocean warming and acidification in predicted future ocean conditions.

This particular species of clam is one of the most common large burrowing bivalves along the northeastern Atlantic, Mediterranean and Baltic sea coastlines, where it is an important prey species for wading birds and affects other sediment fauna and biogeochemistry.

For the study, researchers used pressure sensors to test how the combined effects of experimental warming and acidification influence feeding behaviour, which is largely hidden from direct observation. They also analysed how the clam's presence mediated the combined warming and acidification effects on ecosystem interactions and population resilience among other species.

Dr Carl Van Colen, a researcher at Ghent University, led the study. He said: "This work demonstrates the importance of incorporating understanding about how species interact with others and their environment to better predict how individual populations will cope with climate change. The big advancement in this research came when we started to use pressure sensors to pick up small changes in sediment porewater hydraulics that we could link to the behaviour of the clams. By using this technology we were able to shed light into the 'hidden' life of organisms living burrowed in seafloor sediments."

Mark Briffa, Professor of Animal Behaviour at the University of Plymouth and one of the study's co-authors, added: "This shows how unexpected the effects of human impacts on our environment can be. If the behaviour of a given species changes as a result of ocean acidification and warming, what are the implications for other components of that community? Our study illustrates the importance of investigating the consequences of human impacts on the environment at multiple levels including how it affects the way animals behave."
-end-


University of Plymouth

Related Climate Change Articles:

Mysterious climate change
New research findings underline the crucial role that sea ice throughout the Southern Ocean played for atmospheric CO2 in times of rapid climate change in the past.
Mapping the path of climate change
Predicting a major transition, such as climate change, is extremely difficult, but the probabilistic framework developed by the authors is the first step in identifying the path between a shift in two environmental states.
Small change for climate change: Time to increase research funding to save the world
A new study shows that there is a huge disproportion in the level of funding for social science research into the greatest challenge in combating global warming -- how to get individuals and societies to overcome ingrained human habits to make the changes necessary to mitigate climate change.
Sub-national 'climate clubs' could offer key to combating climate change
'Climate clubs' offering membership for sub-national states, in addition to just countries, could speed up progress towards a globally harmonized climate change policy, which in turn offers a way to achieve stronger climate policies in all countries.
Review of Chinese atmospheric science research over the past 70 years: Climate and climate change
Over the past 70 years since the foundation of the People's Republic of China, Chinese scientists have made great contributions to various fields in the research of atmospheric sciences, which attracted worldwide attention.
A CERN for climate change
In a Perspective article appearing in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Tim Palmer (Oxford University), and Bjorn Stevens (Max Planck Society), critically reflect on the present state of Earth system modelling.
Fairy-wrens change breeding habits to cope with climate change
Warmer temperatures linked to climate change are having a big impact on the breeding habits of one of Australia's most recognisable bird species, according to researchers at The Australian National University (ANU).
Believing in climate change doesn't mean you are preparing for climate change, study finds
Notre Dame researchers found that although coastal homeowners may perceive a worsening of climate change-related hazards, these attitudes are largely unrelated to a homeowner's expectations of actual home damage.
Older forests resist change -- climate change, that is
Older forests in eastern North America are less vulnerable to climate change than younger forests, particularly for carbon storage, timber production, and biodiversity, new research finds.
Could climate change cause infertility?
A number of plant and animal species could find it increasingly difficult to reproduce if climate change worsens and global temperatures become more extreme -- a stark warning highlighted by new scientific research.
More Climate Change News and Climate Change Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: The Power Of Spaces
How do spaces shape the human experience? In what ways do our rooms, homes, and buildings give us meaning and purpose? This hour, TED speakers explore the power of the spaces we make and inhabit. Guests include architect Michael Murphy, musician David Byrne, artist Es Devlin, and architect Siamak Hariri.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#576 Science Communication in Creative Places
When you think of science communication, you might think of TED talks or museum talks or video talks, or... people giving lectures. It's a lot of people talking. But there's more to sci comm than that. This week host Bethany Brookshire talks to three people who have looked at science communication in places you might not expect it. We'll speak with Mauna Dasari, a graduate student at Notre Dame, about making mammals into a March Madness match. We'll talk with Sarah Garner, director of the Pathologists Assistant Program at Tulane University School of Medicine, who takes pathology instruction out of...
Now Playing: Radiolab

What If?
There's plenty of speculation about what Donald Trump might do in the wake of the election. Would he dispute the results if he loses? Would he simply refuse to leave office, or even try to use the military to maintain control? Last summer, Rosa Brooks got together a team of experts and political operatives from both sides of the aisle to ask a slightly different question. Rather than arguing about whether he'd do those things, they dug into what exactly would happen if he did. Part war game part choose your own adventure, Rosa's Transition Integrity Project doesn't give us any predictions, and it isn't a referendum on Trump. Instead, it's a deeply illuminating stress test on our laws, our institutions, and on the commitment to democracy written into the constitution. This episode was reported by Bethel Habte, with help from Tracie Hunte, and produced by Bethel Habte. Jeremy Bloom provided original music. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.     You can read The Transition Integrity Project's report here.