Marine hydrothermal vents as templates for global change scenarios

Subsurface marine hydrothermal vents (HVs) may provide a particular advantage to better understand evolutionary conditions of the early earth and future climate predictions for marine life. Hydrothermal vents (HV) are unique extreme environments that share several similarities with projected global and climate change scenarios in marine systems (e.g., low pH due to high carbon dioxide and sulfite compounds, high temperature and turbidity, high loads of toxic chemicals such as H2S and trace metals). Particularly, shallow hydrothermal vents are easily accessible for short-term and long-term experiments. Research on organisms from shallow HVs may provide insights in the molecular, ecological, and evolutionary adaptations to extreme oceanic environments by comparing them with evolutionary related but less adapted biota. A shallow-water hydrothermal vent system at the northeast Taiwan coast has been intensively studied by several international research teams. These studies revealed astounding highlights at the levels of ecosystem (being fueled by photosynthesis and chemosynthesis), community (striking biodiversity changes due to mass mortality), population (retarded growth characteristics), individual (habitat attractive behavior), and molecular (adaptations to elevated concentrations of heavy metals, low pH, and elevated temperature). The present opinion paper evaluates the potential of shallow hydrothermal vents to be used as a templates for global change scenarios.

Dahms H.-U., Schizas N. V., Wang L. & Hwang J.-S., 2018. Marine hydrothermal vents as templates for global change scenarios. Hydrobiologia 188(1): 1-10. Article (subscription required).


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