Climate change and trophic response of the Antarctic bottom fauna

Richard B. Aronson, Ryan M. Moody, Linda C Ivany, Daniel B. Blake, John E. Werner, Alexander Glass

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

38 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: As Earth warms, temperate and subpolar marine species will increasingly shift their geographic ranges poleward. The endemic shelf fauna of Antarctica is especially vulnerable to climate-mediated biological invasions because cold temperatures currently exclude the durophagous (shell-breaking) predators that structure shallow-benthic communities elsewhere. Methodology/Principal Findings: We used the Eocene fossil record from Seymour Island, Antarctic Peninsula, to project specifically how global warming will reorganize the nearshore benthos of Antarctica. A long-term cooling trend, which began with a sharp temperature drop ∼41 Ma (million years ago), eliminated durophagous predators - teleosts (modern bony fish), decapod crustaceans (crabs and lobsters) and almost all neoselachian elasmobranchs (modern sharks and rays) - from Antarctic nearshore waters after the Eocene. Even prior to those extinctions, durophagous predators became less active as coastal sea temperatures declined from 41 Ma to the end of the Eocene, ∼33.5 Ma. In response, dense populations of suspension-feeding ophiuroids and crinoids abruptly appeared. Dense aggregations of brachiopods transcended the cooling event with no apparent change in predation pressure, nor were there changes in the frequency of shell-drilling predation on venerid bivalves. Conclusions/Significance: Rapid warming in the Southern Ocean is now removing the physiological barriers to shell-breaking predators, and crabs are returning to the Antarctic Peninsula. Over the coming decades to centuries, we predict a rapid reversal of the Eocene trends. Increasing predation will reduce or eliminate extant dense populations of suspension-feeding echinoderms from nearshore habitats along the Peninsula while brachiopods will continue to form large populations, and the intensity of shell-drilling predation on infaunal bivalves will not change appreciably. In time the ecological effects of global warming could spread to other portions of the Antarctic coast. The differential responses of faunal components will reduce the endemic character of Antarctic subtidal communities, homogenizing them with nearshore communities at lower latitudes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere4385
JournalPLoS One
Volume4
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 5 2009

Fingerprint

Climate Change
Climate change
shell (molluscs)
Global Warming
Bivalvia
climate change
fauna
Global warming
Oceans and Seas
predation
Drilling
Suspensions
predators
Elasmobranchii
Decapoda (Crustacea)
Population
Cooling
drilling
Sharks
Temperature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)

Cite this

Aronson, R. B., Moody, R. M., Ivany, L. C., Blake, D. B., Werner, J. E., & Glass, A. (2009). Climate change and trophic response of the Antarctic bottom fauna. PLoS One, 4(2), [e4385]. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0004385

Climate change and trophic response of the Antarctic bottom fauna. / Aronson, Richard B.; Moody, Ryan M.; Ivany, Linda C; Blake, Daniel B.; Werner, John E.; Glass, Alexander.

In: PLoS One, Vol. 4, No. 2, e4385, 05.02.2009.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Aronson, RB, Moody, RM, Ivany, LC, Blake, DB, Werner, JE & Glass, A 2009, 'Climate change and trophic response of the Antarctic bottom fauna', PLoS One, vol. 4, no. 2, e4385. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0004385
Aronson, Richard B. ; Moody, Ryan M. ; Ivany, Linda C ; Blake, Daniel B. ; Werner, John E. ; Glass, Alexander. / Climate change and trophic response of the Antarctic bottom fauna. In: PLoS One. 2009 ; Vol. 4, No. 2.
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