Fish will likely handle global warming much better than environmentalists predict, according to new government-funded research.
Researchers from the University of East Anglia and Dalhousie University found the Winter Skate, a kind of ray-like finish similar to a shark, could adapt to environmental changes far more rapidly than predicted. In fact, skates have survived much more serious climatic shifts events in their evolutionary history.
Scientists suspect these fish are capable of modifying their gene expression, allowing them to handle changing conditions.
The skates have persisted for more than 150 million years through two mass extinctions, suggesting they have a resilience and an evolutionary strategy allowing them to withstand environmental changes — even though they are currently listed as endangered.
“Our work suggests that some success of sharks, skates and rays over very long evolutionary time scales may be due to their ability to respond rapidly to environmental changes through regulation of gene expression,” Dr. Jack Lighten, a professor of environmental science at the University of East Anglia, said in a press release emailed to The Daily Caller News Foundation. “We are only just beginning to understand how they may be affected by climate change. We hope our findings will open the door for more detailed research on the role that epigenetics may play in allowing vulnerable and ecologically important fish to persist during this period of rapid global warming.”
Researchers concluded that the Winter Skate was far more vulnerable to over-fishing than to climatic change, and suspect their findings could be generalized to many other fish. The research was funded by Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Canadian Healthy Oceans Network.
“The Winter Skate has been able to adapt to a dramatically different environment over a short evolutionary time, with apparently little genetic change,” Lighten said. “These adaptive changes in life history, physiology and phenotype have occurred through epigenetic regulation causing changes in gene expression, enabling the species to respond rapidly to environmental challenges.”
This isn’t the first time researchers have found that life will be considerably more resistant to global warming than environmentalist claims say.
Several recent studies rebuke previous claims that global warming could cause the total collapse of American and global agriculture. It is the latest scientific study to show that nature is considerably more resilient to global warming than scientists suspected, and even United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change now believes that the evidence linking global warming to extinctions is sparse.
Research suggests that plant growth would limit the impact of global warming. High CO2 levels cause plant life to thrive, particularly in arid regions where carbon emissions are literally causing deserts to bloom. A study funded by The National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy found that global warming won’t cause global agriculture to collapse and could even boost agricultural yields.
Previous studies suggest global warming is causing roughly half of Earth’s land-mass to demonstrate “significant greening,” and only 4 percent of the world saw a decrease in plant life. The increased vegetation growth caused by warmer temperatures is likely slowing global warming as well, since more trees and plants equates to more sequestered CO2.
Scientists suspect that global warming will likely have many positive environmental impacts, such as helping Canadian trees recover from a devastating insect infestation, creating more food for fish in the ocean, making life easier for Alaskan moose and improving the environment for bees.
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