George Somero, Ph.D
Hopkins Marine Station of Stanford University
Global Warming and Marine Life: Who's in "Hot Water"- and Why?
Wednesday- July 30, 2008
Pacific Forum – 3:00 p.m.
Studies of animals from temperate and tropical rocky intertidal ecosystems and the Antarctic Ocean are helping us understand what species are most threatened by warming, and what underlying physiological and molecular mechanisms set their thermal optima and tolerance limits. Comparisons of rocky intertidal animals adapted to different temperatures have shown that species adapted to the highest temperatures are more threatened by global warming than species adapted to cooler temperatures. Warm-adapted species currently live closer to their lethal limits and have reduced abilities to acclimate to increases in temperature relative to cold-adapted species. Heart failure in the heat is a major cause of death. The information in a species’ genome may be of key importance in determining its response to global warming. Cold-adapted Antarctic fish may be especially vulnerable to warming because, during their long evolution at cold, stable temperatures, they have lost genes critical for acclimating to warm temperatures.