Global Collapse of the Marine Food Chain is Possible with Climate Change

First Posted: Oct 12, 2015 07:58 PM EDT

There may be a global collapse of marine ecosystems. Scientists have taken a closer look at fisheries and ocean ecosystems and have found that ocean acidification may cause major issues for oceanic regions around the world.

"The 'simplification' of our oceans will have profound consequences for our current way of life, particularly for coastal populations and those that rely on oceans for food and trade," said Ivan Nagelkerken, one of the researchers, in a news release.

In this latest study, the researchers conducted a "meta-analysis- of data from 632 published experiments covering tropical to arctic waters, and a range of ecosystems from coral reefs through kelp forests to open oceans.

So what did they find? It turns out that there would be a "limited scope" for acclimation to warmer waters and acidification. In fact, very few species would escape the consequences of increasing carbon dioxide, and there will be an expected large reduction in species diversity and abundance across the globe. The exception to this rule will be microorganisms, which are expected to increase in number and diversity.

"With higher metabolic rates in the warmer water, and therefore a greater demand for food, there is a mismatch with less food available for carnivores-the bigger fish that fisheries industries are based around," said Nagelkerken. "There will be a species collapse from the top of the food chain down."

The findings are published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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