Scientists find animal with ability to survive climate change

September 24th, 2008 - 2:30 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, September 24 (ANI): Scientists from the Queens University in Australia has found that a plankton species, which is the main source of food for many fish in the North Atlantic, appears to have the ability to adapt in order to survive climate change.

Billions of Calanus finmarchicus, the plankton species in question, which are just a few millimetres in size, live in the waters of the North Atlantic where the research was carried out.

The research showed that the animal responded to global warming after the last Ice Age, around 18,000 years ago, by moving north and maintaining large population sizes and also suggests that these animals might be able to track the current change in habitat.

One of the main predicted effects of climate change is a forced shift in species distribution range.

The study leader, Dr Jim Provan, from Queens School of Biological Sciences, said the discovery that that a species has a feature which helps it cope with global warming is a rare example of good news.

Our results, in contrast to previous studies, suggest that the species has been able to shift its distribution range in response to previous changes in the Earth’’s climate, and thus track the effects of climate change, a feature which may be of crucial importance in its survival, he said.

The genetic variability of the species - the tendency of the genetic make-up of a population to vary from one individual to another - has remained high, which is good news, and suggests that these animals might be able to track the current change in habitat resulting from global warming and maintain viable population sizes, he added.

According to Provan, If the species couldnt, it might become extinct and thus threaten the fish species that depend upon it for food.

It might be a rare example of news that may not be doom-and-gloom with respect to climate change, but it doesnt mean that we dont have to keep watching what happens, he added.

As a result of the Queens findings, the team is planning further work to see how the study applies to rapid global warming over the last few decades. (ANI)

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