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Species living in coastal regions could face a significant future threat from reduced levels of oxygen in the marine environment, according to research published in Nature Scientific Reports.
The prevalence of hypoxic (low oxygen) areas in coastal waters is predicted to increase in the future, both in terms of their scale and duration. And while the adults of many estuarine invertebrates can cope with short periods of hypoxia, it has previously been unclear whether that ability is present if animals are bred and reared under chronic hypoxia.
Study - University - Plymouth - Exposure - Hypoxia
A study by the University of Plymouth showed that exposure to even moderate hypoxia can have markedly different effects on metabolic performance, depending on whether adults are exposed to short-term hypoxia or undergo the whole of their development under hypoxic conditions.
Scientists warn that these differing reactions could result in the number of vulnerable species in an affected region currently being underestimated, and ultimately lead to vastly reduced biodiversity in ways that are not immediately obvious.
Lecturer - Marine - Molecular - Biology - Dr
Lecturer in Marine Molecular Biology Dr Manuela Truebano and Professor in Marine Zoology John Spicer, from the University's Marine Biology and Ecology Research Centre, led the study with contribution from students from the Marine Biology programmes.
Dr Truebano said: "Along with ocean acidification and rising temperatures, hypoxia is considered one of the main threats to species within the marine environment - but it is currently the least talked about. As the duration and extent of hypoxic areas is predicted to increase in coastal regions, it is likely that some species will be exposed chronically throughout their life cycle. Most studies to date focus on short term responses observed in adults and, based on these, many estuarine species are currently considered hypoxia-tolerant.
Effect - Hypoxia - Animals - Oxygen - Observations
"We observed a detrimental effect of hypoxia in animals reared under low oxygen, not apparent from observations...
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