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Climate change worse for marine life than forecast, study finds
A new approach prevents contradictory results from cancelling each other out.
New analysis shows differing effects on different species.

A new analysis method of the effects of climate change on marine life has revealed the impact could be bigger than previously known.

The approach, conducted by researchers at the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, prevents seemingly contradictory results from individual studies from cancelling each other out when collated.

Marine biologists often calculate the effects of climate change by considering data from fish and invertebrate species together to develop an understanding of overall worldwide impact.

However this does not account for differing responses to climate change. This can mean that, if an element of climate change has a positive effect on one species but negative on the other, the effects are cancelled out in the analysis.

For example, snails were found to be eating more due to climate change while sea urchins were eating less.

Researchers say that both of these changes are significant to the marine ecosystem, affecting all other animals in the habitat. Turf algae, which would normally be eaten by sea urchins, grows more while kelp, eaten by gastropods, decreases.

Katharina Alter, lead author of the study, developed a new approach which would not cancel out contradictory results, but instead consider all results to determine how climate change affected fitness in an ecosystem.

Prior to this new approach, marine biologists acknowledged three ways that ocean warming and acidic seawater impacted the ecosystem: reduced survival rate, increased metabolism, and weakened skeletons in invertebrates.

The new method of analysis has since raised additional biological responses to climate change. Researchers say that the physiology, reproduction, behaviour and physical development of marine wildlife were also negatively impacted.

The research team says that mitigating the increase of carbon dioxide levels could reduce the negative impact of climate change on the biological processes of marine wildlife.

Dr Alter said: "Our new approach suggests that if ocean warming and acidification continue on the current trajectory, up to 100 per cent of the biological processes in fish and invertebrate species will be affected, while previous research methods found changes in only about 20 and 25 per cent of all processes, respectively."

The full study can be found in the journal Nature Communications.

Image © Shutterstock

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Reporting service for dead wild birds updated

News Story 1
 The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) has updated its online reporting service for dead wild birds.

The new version allows those reporting a dead bird to drop a pin on a map when reporting the location. It also includes a wider range of wild bird species groups to select from when describing the bird.

The online service, which helps APHA to monitor the spread of diseases such as avian influenza, can be accessed here

Click here for more...
News Shorts
NI chief vet urges bluetongue vigilance

Northern Ireland's chief veterinary officer (CVO) has urged farmers to be vigilant for signs of bluetongue, after the Animal and Plant Health Agency warned there was a very high probability of further cases in Great Britain.

There have been 126 confirmed cases of bluetongue virus serotype 3 in England since November 2023, with no cases reported in Northern Ireland. The movement of live ruminants from Great Britain to Northern Ireland is currently suspended.

According to the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), the virus is most likely to enter Northern Ireland through infected animals or germplasm (semen or ova) being imported.

Brian Dooher, Northern Ireland's CVO, said: "Surveillance for this disease within Northern Ireland has been increased to assist with detection at the earliest opportunity which will facilitate more effective control measures."

Farmers should report any suspicions of the disease to their private veterinary practitioner, the DAERA Helpline on 0300 200 7840 or their local DAERA Direct Veterinary Office.