Warming oceans killing seaweed

October 28th, 2011 - 7:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Oct 28 (IANS) Warming oceanic climate is gradually killing seaweed communities on which marine species may survive, according to latest research.

Given future warming, up to one quarter of species might become extinct, said Thomas Wernberg, assistant professor at the University of Western Australia Oceans Institute, who conducted the study.

The researchers studied a database of more than 20,000 herbarium records of macro-algae collected in Australia since the 1940s. They found changes in seaweed communities in both the Indian and the Pacific oceans, consistent with rapid warming over the past decades.

“We found that continued warming might drive potentially hundreds of species towards the edge of the Australian continent beyond which there is no refuge,” Wernberg said, the journal Current Biology reports.

Some species may be able to cope with natural cooling and warming cycles, researchers believed.

But the predicted rate and strength of warming in the coming decades is likely to force many retreating species beyond the limits of available habitat, according to a statement from the university.

“The potential for global extinction is concerning because one quarter of all macro-algal species in the world are found off Australia and these marine habitats support equally unique fish and invertebrate communities,” Wernberg said.

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