Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

On warming Antarctic Peninsula, moss and microbes reveal unprecedented ecological change

Date:
August 29, 2013
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
By carefully analyzing a 150-year-old moss bank on the Antarctic Peninsula, researchers describe an unprecedented rate of ecological change since the 1960s driven by warming temperatures.

This is a Polytrichum strictum moss peat formation.
Credit: British Antarctic Survey

By carefully analyzing a 150-year-old moss bank on the Antarctic Peninsula, researchers reporting in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, on August 29 describe an unprecedented rate of ecological change since the 1960s driven by warming temperatures.

"Whilst moss and amoebae may not be the first organisms that come to mind when considering Antarctica, they are dominant components of the year-round terrestrial ecosystem in the small ice-free zones during an austral summer," says Jessica Royles of the British Antarctic Survey and the University of Cambridge. "We know from meteorological measurements and from the interpretation of signals preserved within ice and sediment cores that the climate of the Antarctic Peninsula has undergone substantial and rapid change. Our evidence, from the southernmost known moss bank, exploits an unusual biological archive and shows that the flora and fauna of the Antarctic Peninsula are very sensitive and have in the past responded, and continue to respond, to these changes in climate."

The researchers looked to the Antarctic Peninsula because it is one of the most rapidly warming regions on Earth; annual temperatures there have increased by up to 0.56C per decade since the 1950s. There they found a moss bank that has been slowly growing at the top surface and accumulating peat material since it first established in about 1860. By analyzing core samples of that moss bank, Royles, Matthew Amesbury of the University of Exeter, and their colleagues were able to characterize the growth and activity of the moss and microbes over time.

The researchers show that growth rates and microbial productivity have risen rapidly since the 1960s -- in a manner that is unprecedented in the last 150 years -- consistent with climate change, although recently it may have stalled. They add that future changes in terrestrial biota are likely to track projected temperature increases closely, and to fundamentally change the ecology and appearance of the Antarctic Peninsula.

"The synchronicity of the changes between the various independent measurements made us confident that we were observing a real, important effect, consistent with projections made for polar regions," Amesbury says. "The rapid increase in the amoebal growth rate showed that higher temperatures, and perhaps altered precipitation, have had an impact on an entire microbial community."

The researchers say the findings emphasize the importance of the monitoring work being done by the British Antarctic Survey. They will now sample moss banks along the length of the western Antarctic Peninsula in an effort to expand their historical record of climate and ecological change over space and time.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cell Press. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Royles et al. Plants and Soil Microbes Respond to Recent Warming on the Antarctic Peninsula. Current Biology, 2013 DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2013.07.011

Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "On warming Antarctic Peninsula, moss and microbes reveal unprecedented ecological change." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 August 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130829124008.htm>.
Cell Press. (2013, August 29). On warming Antarctic Peninsula, moss and microbes reveal unprecedented ecological change. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130829124008.htm
Cell Press. "On warming Antarctic Peninsula, moss and microbes reveal unprecedented ecological change." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130829124008.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 24, 2014) The eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, mainly known for conflict and instability, is an unlikely place for the production of fine cheese. But a farm in the village of Masisi, in North Kivu is slowly transforming perceptions of the area. Known simply as Goma cheese, the Congolese version of Dutch gouda has gained popularity through out the region. Ciara Sutton reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bill Gates: Health, Agriculture Key to Africa's Development

Bill Gates: Health, Agriculture Key to Africa's Development

AFP (July 24, 2014) Health and agriculture development are key if African countries are to overcome poverty and grow, US software billionaire Bill Gates said Thursday, as he received an honourary degree in Ethiopia. Duration: 00:36 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Higgins Breaks Record at Mt. Washington

Higgins Breaks Record at Mt. Washington

Driving Sports (July 24, 2014) Subaru Rally Team USA drivers David Higgins and Travis Pastrana face off against a global contingent of racers at the annual Mt. Washington Hillclimb in New Hampshire. Includes exclusive in-car footage from Higgins' record attempt. Video provided by Driving Sports
Powered by NewsLook.com
Storm Kills Three, Injures 20 at Virginia Campground

Storm Kills Three, Injures 20 at Virginia Campground

Reuters - US Online Video (July 24, 2014) A likely tornado tears through an eastern Virginia campground, killing three and injuring at least 20. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile: iPhone Android Web
          Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins