Saturday, February 19, 2011

CUBE reports 17/02/2011 (Part 3/3)

This next slide showed that organisms living in more flexible temperature environments have greater ability to survive environmental changes, where as more thermally stable environments, such as the polar ecosystems, as they already live in close proximity to their limit temperature tolerance, have lower flexibility to environmental changes, which is another problem for our antarctic friends.

So off to solutions then, what can animals do to cope with the environmental changes? Unfortunately not much, two main possibilities come to play but none of them is suitable for the antarctic biodiversity.
One is physiological adaptations to the new environment, sounds reasonable but it is in fact complicated. According to Peck, we must consider that the Antarctic marine species are characterized by 4 things:
  • Long lifetime
  • Slow growth
  • Slow development rates
  • Delayed maturity
This leads to the production of fewer eggs and offspring which in turn, causes low production of new genetic material, thus there is a decrease capability for the species to survive adverse conditions, because few individuals will be capable of coping with such conditions.
Another solution is Migrations, which is a common trend in most animals around the world, cannot live in one area?Then move to another one!
But in the case of the Antarctic animals they cannot move because they are stranded by the southern ocean.
Hence we reached perhaps my favourite part of the talk, something that I had absolutely no idea. Did you know that the southern ocean circulates continuously around the whole of the Antarctic continent? Literally around it, I just found that amazing, specially when Peck said that a single wave can all way around the whole of the continent without being interr
upted by an obstacle- so called permanent fetch-! Regardless of how "cool" that might sound, in reality it is a burden for the marine animals that enjoy this ocean. Because of its cyclic nature, no other currents from other parts of the world can come into contact with it and thus animals have no where to go. So where do they go?
One way is to swim deeper where water are still nice and cold and the other way is to move to isolated patches in the Antarctica continent which are not were suitable for them particularly in terms of food supply.
Tragic right?
Sadly that is how the lecture ended, without any signs of hope or conservation measures, perhaps there was not enough time to fit it all in, perhaps that will be left for another time.

reporting from the University of Birmingham, UK

No comments:

Post a Comment