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Marine Antarctic animals closely associated with sea ice for food or breeding, such the humpback whale and emperor penguin, are most at risk from the predicted effects of climate change, finds a new study published in Frontiers in Marine Science. Using risk assessments like those used for setting occupational safety limits in the workplace, scientists from the British Antarctic Survey determined the winners and losers of Antarctic climate-change impacts, which includes temperature rise, sea-ice reduction and changes in food availability. They show that seafloor predators and open-water feeding animals, like starfish and jellyfish, will benefit from the opening up of new habitat.
"One of the strongest signals of climate change in the Western Antarctic is the loss of sea ice, receding glaciers and the break-up of ice shelves," says Dr. Simon Morley, lead author, based at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), UK. "Climate change will affect shallow water first, challenging the animals who live in this habitat in the very near future. While we show that many Antarctic marine species will benefit from the opening up of new areas of sea floor as habitat, those associated with sea ice are very much at risk."
Body - Research - Change - Antarctic - Marine
A growing body of research on how climate change will impact Antarctic marine animals prompted the researchers to review this information in a way that revealed which species were most at risk.
"We took a similar approach to risk assessments used in the workplace, but rather than using occupational safety limits, we used information on the expected impacts of climate change on each animal," explains seabird ecologist Mike Dunn, co-author of this study, which forms part of a special article collection on aquatic habitat ecology and conservation. "We assessed many different animal types to give an objective view of how biodiversity might fare under unprecedented change."
They found that krill—crustaceans...
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