by University of Sydney, Jun 27, 2022 in ScienceDaily
In bubbling vents off the coast of Ischia, a volcanic island in the Gulf of Naples, lives a curious population of black sea urchins. For at least 30 years, they have lived in these low pH, carbon dioxide-rich environments — a proxy for climate change-induced acidic oceans.
Now, University of Sydney researchers have determined they can also tolerate unprecedentedly warm sea temperatures — another climate change by-product. This means that these urchins, already one of the most abundant animals in the Mediterranean Sea, will likely plunder further afield as oceans continue to warm and become more acidic.
The researchers have described their findings in Biology Letters, a publication of the Royal Society.
The Mediterranean Sea is warming 20 percent faster than the global average, with predicted warming of up to 5.8°C by 2100.
“Given their ability to withstand a large temperature range, these sea urchins are likely to continue spreading throughout the Mediterranean Sea, with serious consequences for coastal habitats,” said lead researcher, University of Sydney marine biologist Dr Shawna Foo.