Research Press Release

Plankton response to ancient ocean stress

Nature Geoscience

February 4, 2013

Different species of the same group of marine plankton exhibited varying levels of success during a period of rapid global warming and ocean acidification 56 million years ago, reports a paper published online in Nature Geoscience. This divergent response of the different species seems to have influenced their evolutionary success.

Samantha Gibbs and colleagues used laboratory experiments to monitor the morphology of modern coccolithophores - tiny calcite-producing phytoplankton - during periods of rapid and slow growth. Applying this metric to the fossil record, they find that a species whose evolutionary lineage is prolific in the modern oceans continued to grow and reproduce throughout the thermal maximum, whereas the forbear of a species with a more limited range and abundance today did less well.


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