Our directory of things of interest

University Directory

Cold-water plankton not adapting to warmer oceans

  • Written by  Harley Rustad
  • Published in Oceans
Zooplankton Zooplankton Shutterstock
01 Dec
2013
Ocean warming has led to the decline of a species of North Atlantic zooplankton that’s a vital food source for fish such as cod and hake, according to a new study

 The study compared the abundance and distribution of two species of plankton over a 50-year period. They found that the range of the cold-water species, Calanus finmarchicus, had contracted, while the warm-water species, C. helgolandicus, had become more common. ‘In other words, even over 50 generations (each plankton lives for one year or less), there’s no evidence of adaptation to the warmer water,’ said one of the study’s authors, Professor Graeme Hays of Melbourne’s Deakin University.

‘The consequences of this study are profound,’ he added. ‘It suggests that cold- water plankton will become scarcer as their ranges contract to the poles, and ultimately disappear. So, certainly for these animals, thermal adaptation appears unlikely to limit the impact of climate change.

C. finmarchicus is a key food source for fish such as cod and hake,’ he concluded. ‘So continued declines in abundance will have a negative impact on the long-term viability of cold-water fisheries in the North Sea and other areas in the southern part of their range. At the same time, the continued increase in abundance of the warm-water plankton, C. helgolandicus, will likely play a role in the emergence of new fisheries for warm-water species.’

This story was published in the December 2013 edition of Geographical Magazine

Related items

NEVER MISS A STORY - Follow Geographical on Social

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in NATURE...

Nature

The field of bioremediation involves cleaning up toxic waste products…

Wildlife

A new analysis tots up the cost of invasive species…

Climate

It’s surprisingly difficult to know why trees die, but understanding…

Nature

By the late 1980s, almost all mature specimens of the…

Oceans

Scientists are discovering that narwhal tusks reveal a great deal about…

Climate

Climate change is bringing earlier, dangerous 'false springs', longer summers…

Wildlife

A victory for conservation, South Africa has announced plans to…

Energy

The UK has made little progress decarbonising heating, but a significant source…

Nature

The concept of 'natural capital', where the value of nature…

Geophoto

Prestigious photography competition returns for a fourth year

Climate

Founded in the USA by Denis Hayes, Earth Day became…

Geophoto

Tom Goldner's project Do Brumbies Dream in Red? is an intimate portrayal…

Wildlife

Not your usual tune: translating spider's silk into sound could…

Oceans

Millions of oysters have been rescued from the struggling shellfish…

Climate

History is littered with examples of fungi helping to digest…

Geophoto

The streets of Philadelphia are home to a small and forgotten…

Geophoto

When photographer Matthew Maran first snapped a fox he had…

Wildlife

Coloradans have voted to reintroduce grey wolves to the state