A new publication in Scientific Data, of the journal Nature, led by Dr. Brian Helmuth of Northeastern University (USA), established that mussels are subject to temperature extremes that can determine their survival and that the shape of their ecosystems. The research, carried out in the context of the effects of climate change at the global level, was carried out in 71 locations around the world, for 18 years, including the coasts of Chile.

Changos_13_primer_planoAccording to Dr. Bernardo Broitman, a scientist from CEAZA and MUSELS, and one of the authors of this paper, the results highlight the large differences between large-scale (satellite and buoy) observations and what organisms actually experience, a discrepancy that takes place worldwide.

“One of the most interesting results is that these temperature extremes occur as a mosaic. Then, places that one would anticipate as very benign, may have extremely inhospitable sectors. An example of this is in central California, where organisms can experience the lowest and highest temperatures on the entire western coast of the United States, between Canada and Mexico. “

Broitman points out that mussels were used for this project because of the consistency of the information they provide as objects of study. In addition, it adds that diverse species exist around the world and everywhere they fulfill important ecological roles.

“The strategy that these animals use to regulate their temperature depends on the species. Some store large amounts of water inside and others open the valves slightly to cool, evaporating water. It also depends on the environment in which organisms live. “

Climate change

According to Dr. Helmuth, in an interview published on the North¬eastern Uni-verity website, the database obtained in the research provides information on when and where to monitor the effects of climate change.

“If we look at places where animals are regularly subjected to temperatures close to their vital risk, we know that any increase would be fatal and we can act.”

The specialist says that anticipated knowledge of this type of information could help maintain the biodiversity of coastal systems to establish the best and worst places to establish hatcheries of these mollusks.

Biomimetic sensors

IMGP0021The investigation used biomimetic temperature sensors. Its particularity is that they reproduce almost exactly the temperature of the organisms under study and it is replicable in any part of the world. In addition, they are inexpensive and easy to replace.

“The use of biomimetic sensors is quite widespread and is widely used for ectothermic organisms, i.e. those that do not regulate their body temperature, unlike mammals and birds, and therefore their temperature depends on the environment and, to a lesser extent, their behavior. In Chile we have also used this technique to study the temperature of intertidal limpets”, says Dr. Broitman.

More information at http://www.nature.com/articles/sdata201687

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