The impact of climate change on marine life is larger than previously thought

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Fish and invertebrate animals are far more affected by warmer and more acidic seawater than was previously known.
This is the conclusion of a study co-led by NIOZ marine biologist Katharina Alter, based on a new analysis method published in Nature Communications.
Lead author Katharina Alter of the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ) explains why it is essential to summarize and analyze the results of published studies addressing the effects of climate change.
“To gain a better understanding of the overall worldwide impact of climate change, marine biologists calculate its effects on all fish or all invertebrate species lumped together.”
In fact, snails eat more due to climate change, and sea urchins eat less.
Using the new method, the international group of marine researchers discovered that climate change has negative effects on additional important biological responses of fish and invertebrates: physiology, reproduction, behavior, and physical development.
Alter says, “Because this may result in ecological shifts impacting marine ecosystem structures, our results suggest that climate change will likely have stronger impacts than previously thought.”
The big gain of the new method, according to Alter, is that more details become known about the effects of climate change on species.

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Warmer and more acidic seawater has a greater impact on fish and invertebrate species than was previously thought. According to a new analysis technique published in Nature Communications, this is the outcome of a study co-led by marine biologist Katharina Alter of NIOZ.

The Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research’s (NIOZ) Katharina Alter, the lead author, elucidates the significance of compiling and evaluating the findings of published research on the consequences of climate change. “Marine biologists compute the effects of climate change on all fish or all invertebrate species combined in order to obtain a better understanding of the overall global impact of this phenomenon. “.

However, the effects found in various individual studies can cancel each other out. For instance, if some invertebrates, like sea urchins, benefit from a change in the environment while other invertebrates, like snails, suffer from it, the overall effect for invertebrates is determined to be zero, even though both animal groups are impacted. “.

In actuality, as a result of climate change, sea urchins are eating less and snails more. Turf algae, which serves as a food source for sea urchins, grows more while kelp, which serves as a food source for gastropods, grows less, according to Alter. Both effects are significant and maybe even cascading. Due to the two invertebrates’ different modes of feeding, the ecosystem shifts from being dominated by kelp to one that is dominated by turf algae, which modifies the conditions under which all other animals in the ecosystem live. “.

crucial for comprehending changes in the environment.

Dr. Alter, in collaboration with colleagues at Wageningen University and twelve other research institutions in the US, France, Argentina, Italy, and Chile, has developed a novel research methodology that employs both seemingly contradictory results and eliminates them to ascertain the impact of climate change on animal fitness.

Prior to the application of this technique, it was known that ocean warming and increased acidity in seawater had three negative effects on fish and other invertebrate animals: they decreased their chances of surviving, increased their metabolism, and weakened their skeletons.

Using the new method, the international group of marine researchers discovered that climate change has negative effects on additional important biological responses of fish and invertebrates: physiology, reproduction, behavior, and physical development. According to Alter, “Our results suggest that climate change will likely have stronger impacts than previously thought because this may result in ecological shifts impacting marine ecosystem structures.”. “.”.

Affected biological processes may reach 100%.

Warmer and more acidic seawater has been a result of rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere for many years, and this trend is predicted to continue. It is unclear, though, how quickly and how much.

Alter, together with her colleagues, computed the effects of three scenarios of projected increases in carbon dioxide, which in turn led to ocean warming and acidification: an extreme increase, a moderate increase at the current rate, and an mitigated increase due to possible mitigating factors.

According to Alter, “previous research methods found changes in only about 20 and 25 percent of all processes, respectively. Our new approach suggests that if ocean warming and acidification continue on the current trajectory, up to 100 percent of the biological processes in fish and invertebrate species will be affected.”. “.

Moreover, the study demonstrates that reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels will lessen biological process modifications. Specifically, invertebrates’ responses will be impacted by 50% and fish’s by 30% in the low carbon dioxide scenario.

According to Alter, the main benefit of the new approach is that more information about how climate change affects species is now available. The impact of warming and acidifying seawater is calculated using a new method that considers any significant deviation from the current state, regardless of its direction of effect. Our innovative method allows you to identify impacts that the conventional method was unable to identify and incorporates the widest possible range of measured responses. “.”.

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