It is said that with the heat, hunger passes. It may be true for us humans, but apparently it is not true for marine predators: according to a study just published in the journal Science by a group of researchers from Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (Serc), in fact, the warming of the oceans due to climate change it makes their inhabitants more ferocious and hungry. Which, as a cascade, can compromise the balance of the ecosystem of the sea, endangering the survival of many species.
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“The temperature of the seas,” he explains Gail Ashton, first author of the work and marine biologist at Serc, “it settled over thousands of years. Then, suddenly, we witnessed a very fast warming. In the past, several researches had shown that marine predators tended to be more active in tropical areas, since higher temperatures tend to speed up human metabolism; so far, however, all the evidence gathered did not point in the same direction, and there was not yet a clear-cut evidence. Furthermore, there were too few studies that focused on understanding what was the response of prey to the increase in pressure from predators.
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“The hottest waters,” he comments Emmett Duffy“tend to favor animals higher up the food chain, which become more active and need more food. Those who lose out, of course, are their prey: this suggests that warming seas could lead to major changes in the lives of animals. more populous marine environments “.
In the work just published, the researchers tried to shed some light on the issue by analyzing data from 36 different marine locations in the oceans. Atlantic And PacificfromAlaska at the Tierra del Fuego. At each site, scientists conducted three experiments. In the first, they used dried cuttlefish baits, soaking them in water for an hour and then pulling them out to see how many were left: the results of the analysis showed that predation was actually more intense in warmer locations, while in cold waters it was practically non-existent.
In the other two experiments, they concentrated on observing fish that live in deeper waters, immersing a sort of cages of two types, one open and one that did not let predators enter: also in this case, it emerged that in the waters warmer the impact of predators was much more significant. The preys in unprotected cages, in the tropical zones, have been practically all devoured; in colder waters, on the other hand, there was no difference between the prey in the protected cages and those in the open cages: the appetite is heating up
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