14 Feb 2012:
Unique Antarctic Fish
Threatened by Warming Southern Ocean
A unique group of fish that has evolved to live in Antarctic waters thanks to “anti-freeze” proteins in their blood and body fluids is threatened by rising temperatures in the Southern Ocean
, according to a new
An Antarctic notothenioids
study. Yale University researchers say that the more than 100 species of so-called icefish, or notothenioids, evolved 20 million to 40 million years ago to live in waters as low as -2 degrees C, which is the freezing point of saltwater. The notothenioids account for the bulk of fish diversity in the waters around Antarctica and are an important source of food for penguins, seals, and toothed whales. But as water temperatures rise in the Southern Ocean — some Antarctic water temperatures have increased by .5 degrees C in the past several decades — the notothenioids may have trouble adapting to a warmer environment, said the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science
. “A rise of 2 degrees centigrade of water temperature will likely have a devastating impact on this Antarctic fish lineage,” said Thomas Near, associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Yale.
Yale Environment 360 is
a publication of the
Yale School of Forestry
& Environmental Studies
Yale Environment 360
articles are now available in Spanish and Portuguese on Universia
, the online educational network. Visit the site.
Business & Innovation
Policy & Politics
Pollution & Health
Science & Technology
Antarctica and the Arctic
Central & South America
Photographer Robert Wintner documents the exquisite beauty and biodiversity of Cuba’s coral reefs, which are largely intact thanks to stifled coastal development in the communist nation. View the gallery.
is now available for mobile devices at e360.yale.edu/mobile
The Warriors of Qiugang
, a Yale Environment 360
video, chronicles a Chinese village’s fight against a polluting chemical plant. It was nominated for a 2011 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short.
Watch the video.
Top Image: aerial view of Iceland
. © Google & TerraMetrics.
A three-part series Tainted Harvest
looks at the soil pollution crisis in China, the threat it poses to the food supply, and the complexity of any cleanup. Read the series.