Ocean warming caused by anthropogenic greenhouse-gas emissions will prompt many species of marine plankton to seek out new habitats, in some cases as a matter of survival.
Ocean warming caused by anthropogenic greenhouse-gas emissions will prompt many species of marine plankton to seek out new habitats, in some cases as a matter of survival. ETH Zurich researchers expect many organisms to head to the poles and form new communities – with unforeseeable consequences for marine food webs.
The ocean is teeming with microscopic plants and animals known collectively as plankton. Each individual organism is tiny, yet, taken as a whole, this free-floating community delivers important ecosystem services. For example, plant-like plankton, or phytoplankton, use photosynthesis to fix carbon from carbon dioxide, making them a key driver of the oceanic carbon cycle. Phytoplankton are also a food source for zooplankton, which, in turn, nourish fish and marine creatures up to and including the blue whale.
As the climate heats up and ocean temperatures rise, researchers expect to see significant changes in plankton distribution. Yet there are hardly any studies investigating where different species of plankton might thrive in the future.
Part of this knowledge gap has now been filled by a research team led by Fabio Benedetti and Meike Vogt, the former a postdoctoral researcher and the latter a senior scientist in Nicolas Gruber’s group at ETH Zurich, in collaboration with colleagues from the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL).
Read more at ETH Zurich
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