Starfish may surprisingly benefit from global warming

May 31st, 2009 - 3:32 pm ICT by ANI  

London, May 31 (ANI): While many studies have predicted that global warming will cause widespread disruptions to ecosystems, a new study has found that a species of starfish may benefit from rising ocean temperatures and carbon dioxide concentrations.

Previous studies have concluded that sea animals with calcified shells or skeletons, such as starfish, will suffer as carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels dissolves in the sea, making the water more acidic and destroying the calcium carbonate on which the creatures depend.

However, Pisaster ochraceus, a species of sea star, may ride out the climate storm, reports New Scientist.

For the study, Rebecca Gooding and colleagues at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, exposed sea stars to rising temperatures and water acidity.

The researchers found that the sea stars thrived in temperatures of up to 21 degree Celsius and atmospheric CO2 concentrations of up to 780 parts per million - beyond predicted rises for the next century.

Gooding and colleagues say that the sea star seems to survive because its calcium is nodular, so unlike species with continuous shells or skeletons it can compensate for a lack of carbonate by growing more fleshy tissue instead.

However the team warned against assuming that global warming will have the same impact across groups of similar species.

The study is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. (ANI)

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