France Media Agency07 Jan 2021 11:08:30 AM IST
Marine mollusc populations have collapsed in parts of the eastern Mediterranean over the past few decades as the warming water has made conditions unsuitable for native species, new research showed Wednesday. The water off the coast of Israel – one of the warmest in the Mediterranean – has already warmed by three degrees Celsius in four decades, with water temperatures constantly exceeding 30 ° C in summer. An international team of researchers working in the newspaper Royal Society procedure B.studied the effects of these warmer waters on the local marine mollusc population as well as the arrival of invasive species from the Red Sea via the Suez Canal.
Paolo Albano from the Institute of Paleontology at the University of Vienna first set out to compare populations of local and non-native species along the Israeli plateau in the eastern Mediterranean. But he quickly realized how much the local shellfish populations had declined.
“I expected to find a Mediterranean ecosystem with these ‘newcomers’,” he said. AFP.
“However, after the first dive, I immediately realized that the problem was different: the lack of native Mediterranean species, even the most common in the whole of the Mediterranean. “”
Local species extinction
Albano and his colleagues compared the mollusc populations identified from more than 100 seabed samples with historical records and found that only 12 percent of the molluscs historically present in shallow sediments were still present.
On rocky reefs it was only five percent.
The team also estimated that 60 percent of the remaining mollusc populations studied fail to reach reproductive size, making the region a “population sink” for some species.
Albano said that while other factors could play a role in this population collapse, including the impact of alien species and pollution, the general trend was likely caused by ocean warming.
“This is where temperature tolerance really matters, and most native Mediterranean species are at the limit of their temperature tolerance in the Far Eastern Mediterranean,” he said.
In contrast to local molluscs, populations of tropical species that entered the Mediterranean via the Suez Canal flourished.
This species renewal creates a “new ecosystem,” the authors said, and the massive loss of native species is likely too great to correct.
Albano said the eastern Mediterranean is “paradigmatic of what is happening in marine ecosystems due to global warming: species respond to warming by shifting their range, and in some regions it means local extinction of species”. .
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