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Adaptations and climate change in Antarctic marine animals

Professor Lloyd Peck, Individual Merit Scientist, British Antarctic Survey

Monday 07 June 2010, 1600-1700
LEC Training Room 2

Antarctic marine species live at the end of the spectrum of marine environments on Earth, with low, constant temperatures and the strongest seasonality of light and phytoplankton productivity anywhere. The marine animals there have some of the lowest physiological rates reported with slow growth and development, metabolic rates, and activity levels of any major fauna and Earth. They also have many unique adaptations including a group of fish that has no blood pigments to carry oxygen around the body, gigantism, and the loss of the previously reported as ubiquitous heat shock response. They also have the poorest abilities to resist or respond to elevated temperature in laboratory experiments. However, parts of the Antarctic have warmed as fast or faster than anywhere on Earth, Antarctic peninsula air temperatures rising 3°C and sea temperatures 1°C in 50 years. Climate models also predict that polar areas will warm more than other regions in the future. This talk will highlight current research on vulnerabilities of this group to change, and where approaches to predicting responses to change are lacking.

Professor Lloyd Peck has over 25 years experience of working on Adaptations of Antarctic marine species. He has visited Antarctica 14 times for research, and the Arctic 3 times. Lloyd ran major programmes of science in BAS for 10 years on ecology and physiology of marine and terrestrial life in polar regions. He has over 175 science publications including books, book chapters and commentaries. Lloyd was also the Christmas lecturer on Channel 4 TV in 2004 and was NERC Biodiversity Theme Leader 2007-2009. His research interests are in adaptations to extreme environments, how animals can respond to change, and how adaptations to extremes affect abilities to respond.