Biodiversity is an essential part of life on earth. The more variety of species there are, the more interactions and potential resources there are. Therefore, when scientists discovered that there are several more species of plankton than they anticipated before, they had found some exciting news. However, plankton, and other marine life, are being affected by climate change. Some marine animals are going to have to move cooler regions eventually. Marine biologists are going to have to pay attention to climate change more than ever now.
Tara, a schooner that has collected plankton and studied different species of it for a few years, has discovered that instead of 11,000 species of plankton, there are actually 150,000 species. That is great news because plankton is the most vital food source to marine animal existence. They are at the bottom of the food chain in the ocean food web, act as carbon sinks, and produce half of the oxygen animals use. Plankton balance the chemistry on Earth’s atmosphere; in spite of being so small, their existence is vital.
Plankton also indicate the importance of biodiversity. The more variety of species of Plankton that are available, the more likely it is that they can exist even if some disaster wipes out many species. Furthermore, Plankton practice “positive interaction” which means that they contribute to the ecosystem by collaborating, instead of being in competition with each other and other marine organisms. Marine biology focuses on the relationship between organisms in the ocean the same way biologists focus on the ecology of land animals.
However, an issue is plaguing the existence of wide varieties of Plankton as well as other marine animals. Climate change is causing ocean waters to grow warmer. Warm water cannot hold as many dissolved gasses as cool water, therefore marine life is going to have to drift away from the equator to survive. Even if oxygen levels in the ocean do not become an issue, warm waters will still affect the oxygen levels of marine life. The climate change puts pressure on the respiratory systems of marine organisms which means that their bodies demand more oxygen in warmer ocean temperatures. Though phytoplankton do survive well in sunlight, because they need it to function, the climate change issue can have a negative affect on them because they are sensitive to radiation. Radiation kills off plankton, and if too many plankton are affected, the ocean food web will be in disarray. Marine biology will have to bring more attention to the issue of fewer habitats and resources being available for marine life.
Although climate change issues focus on ocean levels and melting ice caps, it is important that these adverse affects from climate change are also noted. Ocean temperature and oxygen levels are going to have long-term adverse effects on marine life in the future. This should be a worry for humans because it could deprive them of their seafood resources. It also indicates that if there is little left for marine life to survive on in some areas, than there could be possible repercussions for humans living on land to watch out for as well, such as an imbalance of oxygen levels. Marine biology is vital for scientists to pay attention to, because there are crucial similarities that humans have with ocean animals, even though their composition is dramatically different. Marine biology is now more than just the study of animals in the ocean, it is about studying the effects of climate change and how to reduce the adverse results that are brought about by such issues. Marine biology has to focus on climate change more than ever.
By Tania Dawood
Phys Org- Warmer, lower-oxygen oceans will shift marine habitats
FT Magazine- Marine Biology: the secret life of plankton
VOA- Plankton More Important than Scientists Thought
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