Century-long sea snail study identifies surprising impacts of climate change on coastal ecosystems

Climate change is threatening marine species and ecosystems with rising temperatures and extreme weather. Now scientists from Cambridge and the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Science have observed how sea snails living on rocky shores are coping with climate change, through studying 130 years of data from dog whelk shells.

As the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere rises it is absorbed by the oceans — causing pH levels to fall. This process, known as ocean acidification, is potentially disastrous for shellfish because they find it increasingly difficult to build the shells that protect them from predators.

The new study, published in Nature Communications Earth and Environment, has matched climate driven changes over the last century to changing shell characteristics of dog whelks from museum collections.

University of Cambridge, 18 July 2022. Full article.

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