20 December 2006

Warming seas are driving marine species north

Climate change is forced seashore creatures around Britain to relocate according to a new study - warming seas are pushing many species of barnacles, snails and limpets north in search of cooler areas of coast.

The MarClim project tracked the distribution of 57 species at more than 400 sites around the UK coastline. The data was then compared with earlier records from the same areas. Researchers found that some marine species adapted to cold water were migrating away from warming seas, and were moving faster than their terrestrial counterparts. Some cold water species, such as the tortoiseshell limpet, have almost disappeared from Britain's shores.

Increased global temperatures have also confused birds this winter: robins, thrushes and ducks that would normally fly south from Scandinavia have only been turning up in Britain in December - long after snow usually drives them south. According to ornithologists, Bewick's swans, which usually arrive in Britain from Siberia in October, seemed to have stopped for longer than usual in countries such as Estonia or the Netherlands because of plentiful food there.

Some species are thriving in the warmer seas. Topshells, a type of warm water snail, have extended their range in Britain by up to 50 miles since the end of the 1980s. Warmer seas have also brought invasive species with them. A type of Japanese seaweed called Sargassum muticum was brought to Britain in the 1940s in the ballast water of ships, and in the last 20 years it has expanded its range rapidly.

The MarClim researchers will continue their new work in a project called IndiRock. This will monitor entire ecosystems on the shoreline, rather than individual species.


5 comments:

snowflake5 said...

Hi, this is a bit off-topic, but just popped in to wish you a Merry Christmas. Have a good one.

jams o donnell said...

Thanks snowflake. You have a great xmas too

mullet said...

sounds like my boy's heaven....crabs with wings and stuff

glad to see you haven't rushed into the beta thing

elasticwaistbandlady said...

I wonder what that means for the millions of snowbirds who venture south in the winter in hopes of wearing Hawaiian shirts and Speedos poolside in a tropical climate? Will they get confused on their way to Florida or California and get stuck somewhere in New Jersey because the food is plentiful?

I see across the board problems for all species, jams!

jams o donnell said...

I daresay it doesnt feel like that the waters off Troon or other prime Ayrshure resorts have seen warming yet! I'll go to beta in my own good time

Aargh now that is a mental image that will haunt me ewbl! Our snowbirds head for Spain and the like... I cant see them getting confused and staying in Eastbourne just yet!