Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 

Antarctic stars in their eyes

17.01.2019

Antarctic starfish are taking centre stage in revealing their resilience to climate change.

The initial results of a study looking at how Antarctic starfish adapt to climate change show they would continue to thrive and reproduce in a warmer, more acidic ocean - but may not grow as big.

The study carried out by marine biologist University of Otago Associate Professor Miles Lamare has just reached its two year milestone.

Five hundred Antarctic sea stars, scientifically known as Odontaster validus, were collected from the sea floor at McMurdo Sound in 2016. They were flown to Dunedin in special temperature-controlled tanks and have been grown in varying conditions in a special containment facility ever since. The tanks have water temperatures between 1 and 4 degrees Celsius and varying Carbon Dioxide levels, they replicate future conditions predicted for Antarctic seas.

Professor Lamare says the research team created computer models to then predict how animals may respond to the future in terms of growth and reproduction, and compared the models to real life results.

“The model predicted that if you increase the temperature, the sea stars can maintain reproduction but it would be at the cost of growth, so it was pleasing to see the real-life response matched these predictions.

“Interestingly, preliminary results indicate that the animals are quite happy in water up to 5 degrees warmer, but they change how they allocate resources which is important to know,” he says.

A further 200 sea stars were collected in November with the help of American divers based at McMurdo Station. These will allow scientists to drill further into physiological responses to environmental stresses and changes.

“They are really good animals to work with, they’re hardy, travel well and do well in lab conditions – they’re the perfect Antarctic lab rat for us,” says Lamare.

Antarctica New Zealand Chief Scientific Advisor Dr Fiona Shanhun says the research provides valuable climate change insights.

“It is awesome to see the results of this research coming to fruition.

“The predictive computer model will be a great starting point for similar experiments with other creatures and how they might react to a change in conditions,” she says.

The study continues with the additional sea stars and offspring from the original 500. There are also plans to use the computer model that predicted the changes on other species, next on the list is Laternula elliptica, an abundant Antarctic clam.

Lamare is carrying out the research alongside Dr Antonio Agüera of the Université Libre de Bruxelles and Biomar.

It is funded by the New Zealand Antarctic Research Institute with support from the Belgian Science Policy Office and the international Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Ground Rules: Government Moves To Protect Best Growing Land

“Continuing to grow food in the volumes and quality we have come to expect depends on the availability of land and the quality of the soil. Once productive land is built on, we can’t use it for food production, which is why we need to act now.” More>>

ALSO:

Royal Society: Calls For Overhaul Of Gene-Technology Regulations

An expert panel considering the implications of new technologies that allow much more controlled and precise ‘editing’ of genes, has concluded it’s time for an overhaul of the regulations and that there’s an urgent need for wide discussion and debate about gene editing... More>>

ALSO:

Retail: Card Spending Dips In July

Seasonally-adjusted electronic card spending dipped in July by 0.1 percent after being flat in June, according to Stats NZ. Economists had expected a 0.5 percent lift, according to the median in a Bloomberg poll. More>>

ALSO:

Product Stewardship: Govt Takes More Action To Reduce Waste

The Government is proposing a new way to deal with environmentally harmful products before they become waste, including plastic packing and bottles, as part of a wider plan to reduce the amount of rubbish ending up in landfills. More>>

ALSO:

Earnings Update: Fonterra Sees Up To $675m Loss On Writedowns

“While the Co-op’s FY19 underlying earnings range is within the current guidance of 10-15 cents per share, when you take into consideration these likely write-downs, we expect to make a reported loss of $590-675 million this year, which is a 37 to 42 cent loss per share." More>>

ALSO: