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16 December 2013

Auf der Spur der mongolischen Gazellen – Thomas Müller neuer Robert Bosch Juniorprofessor in Frankfurt...

30 October 2013

Batmans gefährliche Seite: Welche Krankheitserreger stecken in Fledermäusen?...

22 October 2013

Planet der Pilze – neue Erkenntnisse über eine bislang unterschätzte Vielfalt ...

12 October 2013

Wie sicher ist die Kohlendioxid-Speicherung im Meeresboden?...

04 October 2013

Bevölkerungsrückgang - eine Chance für die Umwelt? Vortrag aus der Veranstaltungsreihe zur Sonderausstellung „PLANET 3.0 – Klima.Leben.Zukunft“...

30 September 2013

Wanted dead and alive – New concept for a better understanding of biodiversity in time and space...

13 September 2013

Themenabend: „Fracking – Energiegewinnung mit Zukunft? Nutzen und Risiken unkonventioneller Erdgasförderung "...

30 August 2013

Gelernt statt nur ererbt: Schreikraniche lernen optimale Zugrouten von erfahrenen Altvögeln...

24 July 2013

Pflanzen auf Wanderschaft: Nur wenige können dem Klimawandel ausweichen....

04 July 2013

Supermarkt Savanne durch Klima- und Landnutzungswandel bedroht...

02 July 2013

Mount Everest-Region lag bereits vor 17 Millionen Jahren so hoch wie heute - Frankfurter Geowissenschaftler erforschen Auswirkungen auf Klimamodelle und Evolutionsgeschichte ...

28 June 2013

Flexible Partnerschaft erlaubt Flechten, verschiedene Habitate zu besiedeln - Bei der Alge-Pilz-Partnerschaft ist das „wer mit wem?“ für die Lebensraumansprüche entscheidend...

27 June 2013

Globaler Kälteeinbruch in der Kreidezeit – mussten Dinosaurier frieren?...

25 June 2013

Was Zecken in sich verstecken: Studie zeigt Verbreitung infizierter Zecken im Rhein-Main-Gebiet...

19 June 2013

Herausragende Forschung an einem besonderen Ort: Das LOEWE Biodiversität und Klima Forschungszentrum (BiK-F) bezieht saniertes Gebäude des Architekten Ferdinand Kramer ...

14 June 2013

Erbgut im Gefrierschrank - DNA-Bank von Senckenberg und BiK-F in DNA-Bank-Netzwerk aufgenommen...

21 May 2013

“Whodunnit” of Irish potato famine solved...

17 May 2013

„Klima und Mensch. Die Sicht der Geowissenschaften“ - Vortrag aus der Veranstaltungsreihe zur Sonderausstellung Planet 3.0...

06 May 2013

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02 May 2013

Dem Bären gefahrlos unter den Pelz geschaut: Geschlechtsbestimmung mit Molekularbiologie...

18 April 2013

Fossils provide insight into origin of unique Antarctic ecosystem ...

12 April 2013

Die Polargebiete im Wandel: Einsichten mit neuen Satellitenmessverfahren...

04 April 2013

Vortrag: Klimawandel – Was kommt auf uns zu?...

28 March 2013

Achtung – Allergie! Modelle zeigen klimawandelbedingte Ausbreitung der Beifußambrosie in Europa auf...

18 March 2013

Neue Senckenberg-Veranstaltungsreihe „Planet 3.0“...

27 February 2013

Life in the collision zone: Mountains trigger biodiversity...

26 February 2013

Venomous snakes of Nepal: medical and development experts celebrate book release in Kathmandu...

05 February 2013

Trojanischer Flohkrebs: Wenn eingeschleppte Arten Parasiten in sich tragen...

29 January 2013

Sonderausgabe Journal of Biogeography: Einbeziehung biologischer Prozesse in die Nischenmodellierung...

28 January 2013

Klimawandel und Biodiversität: Folgen für Deutschland – Statusbericht ist Umweltbuch des Monats...

17 January 2013

Neue Übersichtstudie: Klimawandel verringert genetische Vielfalt...

03 January 2013

Zeitreise ins Jahr 2080 – Gewinner und Verlierer des Klimawandels in Europas Bächen und Flüssen...

Press Releases

Fossils provide insight into origin of unique Antarctic ecosystem

Frankfurt/Main, Germany, April 18, 2013. The circum-Antarctic Southern Ocean is an important region for global marine food webs and carbon cycling because of sea-ice formation and its unique plankton ecosystem. The origin of its ecosystems can be traced back to the emergence of the Antarctic ice sheets approximately 33.6 million years ago. This discovery was made by an international team including scientists from the Goethe University and the Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre in Frankfurt, Germany. Their study, published today in Science, shows that the development of the sea-ice ecosystem possibly triggered further adaptation and evolution of larger organisms such as baleen whales and penguins.

The scientists analysed sediment samples from drill cores on the seafloor, which were obtained in 2010 off the coast of Antarctica, as part of the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP). The cores reach nearly 1000 meters beneath the seafloor and provide new insights into a long gone past.
A study published in 2012 demonstrated that subtropical plants covered Antarctica about 53 million years ago. In the course of the following 20 million years, the global climate cooled continuously. The new study focuses on the interval 33.6 million years ago when within a short time an enormous ice sheet covered Antarctica. This changed the life conditions and the ecosystems on the Antarctic continent and the surrounding Southern Ocean dramatically.

Tiny witnesses: Dinoflagellates
The ocean plankton mainly consist of algae, most of which are not preserved in sediment samples from drill cores. In contrast, single-celled dinoflagellates, a group of algae containing organic fossilizable substance, do preserve in sedimentary sequences over millions of years. This makes them a valuable tool to reconstruct environmental.
The researchers found that when Antarctica was sub-tropical and ice-free, the surrounding seas were inhabited by a diverse array of dinoflagellates characteristic for relatively warm climates. However, from the moment that the ice cap formed, the diversity suddenly collapsed, and from that moment, only species occurred that are adapted to temporary sea-ice cover and characterize modern sea-ice environments around Antarctica. They are present in high numbers only when the sea ice melts in spring and summer, and therefore are available as a food source for higher organisms only during a short period of the year.

New species due to food shortage
The seas around Antarctica play a critical role in the food web of the ocean. Algal blooms only occur in summer, when the sea ice melts. These blooms are a key food source for both small single-cell organisms such as certain species of dinoflagellates and for larger organisms.
“The sudden turnover in the dinoflagellate assemblages indicates clearly that the entire plankton ecosystem of the Antarctic waters had changed”, explains Prof. Jörg Pross, co-author of the study and paleoclimatologist at the Goethe University and the Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiK-F) in Frankfurt, Germany. “The explosion of dinoflagellates adapted to a temporary sea-ice cover testifies to an in-depth reorganization of the food web in the Southern Ocean.”
Larger animals higher up in the ocean’s food chain probably adapted their diet because the algal growth season became shorter and more intense. Jörg Pross sums up: „Our data suggest that this change may have promoted the evolution of modern baleen whales and penguins“.
These results stress that major climate change is often accompanied by particularly rapid biological evolution.


For further information please contact:

Prof. Dr. JörgPross
Paleoenvironmental Dynamics Group, Palentology Section, Institute of Geosciences,
Goethe University and
LOEWE Biodiversity and Climate Research Center
Phone +49 (0)69 798 40181 joerg.pross@em.uni-frankfurt.de

or

Dr. Julia Krohmer
LOEWE Biodiversity and Climate Research Center (BiK-F),
Transfer office
Tel. +49 (0)69 7542 1837
julia.krohmer@senckenberg.de


Paper:
A.J.P. Houben, P.K. Bijl, J. Pross et al: Reorganization of Southern Ocean Plankton  Ecosystem at the Onset of Antarctic Glaciation, Science, DOI 10.1126/science.1223646

 Press images:

 Research vessel
The ocean drilling vessel JOIDES Resolution with which the IODP brought drill cores from the Antarctic coastal waters to the surface in 2010.
© Integrated Ocean Drilling Program, IODP
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Research vessel in the Antarctica
JOIDES Resolution in the Antarctic Sea.
© Integrated Ocean Drilling Program, IODP
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Ice floes 
Ice floes in the Antarctic coastal waters.
© Annick Fehr
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Sediment core
Pebbles in a sediment core from the Antarctic coastal waters. The pebbles were taken to open sea by icebergs and ultimately fell to the ocean floor.
© Saiko Sugisaki
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Fossile dinoflagellate
A characteristic dinoflagellate cyst found in sediments dating back to the early Oligocene (33 million years ago).
© Alexander Houben
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LOEWE Biodiversität und Klima Forschungszentrum, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
With the objective of analysis the complex interactions between biodiversity and climate through a wide range of methods, the Biodiversität und Klima Forschungszentrum [Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre] (BiK‐F) has been funded since 2008 within the context of the Landes‐Offensive zur Entwicklung Wissenschaftlich-ökonomischer Exzellenz (LOEWE) of the Land of Hessen. The Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung and Goethe University in Frankfurt as well as other, directly involved partners, co‐operate closely with regional, national and international institutions in the fields of science, resource and environmental management, in order to develop projections for the future and scientific recommendations for sustainable action. For further details, please visit www.bik‐f.de

 

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