Shelled pteropods, commonly known as sea butterflies, are increasingly exposed to ocean changes, but some species are more vulnerable to this threat.
Shelled pteropods, commonly known as sea butterflies, are increasingly exposed to ocean changes, but some species are more vulnerable to this threat. In a new study, published this month (11 May) in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science, British Antarctic Survey (BAS) scientists examining pteropod life cycles in the Southern Ocean have found that some species might be more vulnerable to this threat due to different timings of their life cycle.
Sea butterflies are tiny, free-swimming sea snails, which are an important part of the marine ecosystem. They are also vulnerable to climate change as their shells are sensitive to ocean acidification. Now, a team of researchers led by BAS has examined the life cycles of two free-swimming sea snail species. They found that one is less vulnerable to changes in the Southern Ocean than the other, which could affect the sea snails on a population level and in turn impact the marine ecosystem.
The world’s oceans absorb approximately a quarter of all carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. During absorption, CO2 reacts with seawater and oceanic pH levels fall. This is known as ocean acidification and results in lower carbon ion concentrations. Certain ocean inhabitants use carbon ions to build and sustain their shells. Pteropods, which are important components of the marine ecosystem, are among them.
Read more at British Antarctic Survey
Image: An adult sea butterfly, a tiny free swimming sea snail. (Photo Credit: Victoria Peck – BAS)