Effects of Global Warming on Aquatic Ecosystems
Notice that this summer is hotter than the one before; the climate this year has just been more unpredictable than it used to be; the news covers lots of flooding or disordered natural disasters. Yes, all because of that are the effects of global warming that may have caught your attention. With greenhouse gases –and thus air pollution– not allowing heat to escape, the earth has been warming drastically in the past years. Global warming changes the balance of every ecosystem, including ours and others we do not even consider. Although the aforementioned changes might not be noticeable in daily life, let’s take a look at an ecosystem that is put in jeopardy because of global warming.
To research the effects of warmer temperatures on the oceans and aquatic food webs, scientists from Smithson coordinated with others to conduct experiments. These experiments took place on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of North and South America, up from as far as Alaska in the north down to Tierra del Fuego in the south. One of several experiments was to conduct an experiment that will gauge predator activity with bait to lure predators. The bait was left underwater for an hour and the results were recorded. With that, they made a comparison between the amount of bait eaten in both colder and warmer sites. In the end, the experiment portrayed that while predation was more common at warmer temperatures, it was nearly none in colder ones. (Smithsonian)
All in all, higher temperatures yield a faster metabolism in animals and thus an increase in activity. And in this situation, animals lower in the food chain get the shorter end of the stick. With the heat and the increase in the speed of their metabolism, the predators on top of the food webs become more active and resulting in more consumption of food. Considering that the previous balance in temperature nearly lasted for thousands of years before humans have caused global warming to escalate in the last two decades, the change is that food webs are spontaneous and drastic.(Gail V. Ashton, et al.)
According to one of the co-authors of this research, Greg Ruiz, as the temperature rises and predation alters, there will be organisms that are going to be affected detrimentally and others that will be luckier. Yet, there is no real evidence to know how the effects of global warming will exactly reflect the aquatic ecosystems. Even more so in areas near the equator that are already warmer.
Smithsonian. "As the ocean heats up hungrier predators take control: Marine predation intensifies in warmer waters; could reshape ocean communities as climate changes." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 June 2022. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/06/220609155808.htm>.
Gail V. Ashton, et al. “Predator control of marine communities increases with temperature across 115 degrees of latitude”. Science, 2022; 376 (6598): 1215 DOI: 10.1126/science.abc4916