A fish story from Antarctica

From Yale University: Fish of Antarctica threatened by climate change

The development of antifreeze glycoproteins by notothenioids, a fish family that adapted to newly formed polar conditions in the Antarctic millions of years ago, is an evolutionary success story. The three species of fish are an example of the diversity this lineage achieved when it expanded into niches left by fish decimated by cold water environment. Now the same fish are endangered by warming of the Antarctic seas (in order: Chaenodraco wilsoni (common name: spiny icefish); Trematomus newnesi (common name: dusky rockcod); Vomeridens infuscipinnis (common name: antarctic dragonfish). Credit: Courtesy of Yale University

A Yale-led study of the evolutionary history of Antarctic fish and their “anti-freeze” proteins illustrates how tens of millions of years ago a lineage of fish adapted to newly formed polar conditions – and how today they are endangered by a rapid rise in ocean temperatures.

“A rise of 2 degrees centigrade of water temperature will likely have a devastating impact on this Antarctic fish lineage, which is so well adapted to water at freezing temperatures,” said Thomas Near, associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and lead author of the study published online the week of Feb. 13 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The successful origin and diversification into 100 species of fish, collectively called notothenioids, is a textbook case of how evolution operates. A period of rapid cooling led to mass extinction of fish acclimated to a warmer Southern Ocean. The acquisition of so-called antifreeze glycoproteins enabled notothenioids to survive in seas with frigid temperatures. As they adapted to vacant ecological niches, new species of notothenioids arose and contributed to the rich biodiversity of marine life found today in the waters of Antarctica.

Notothenioids account for the bulk of the fish diversity and are a major food source for larger predators, including penguins, toothed whales, and seals. Yale’s Peabody Museum of Natural History has one of the most important collections of these specimens in the world.

However, the new study suggests the acquisition of the antifreeze glycoproteins 22 to 42 million years ago was not the only reason for the successful adaptation of the Antarctic notothenioids. The largest radiation of notothenioid fish species into new habitats occurred at least 10 million years after the first appearance of glycoproteins, the study found.

“The evolution of antifreeze was often thought of as a ‘smoking gun,’ triggering the diversification of these fishes, but we found evidence that this adaptive radiation is not linked to a single trait, but to a combination of factors,” Near said.

This evolutionary success story is threatened by climate change that has made the Southern Ocean around Antarctica one of the fastest-warming regions on Earth. The same traits that enabled the fish to survive and thrive on a cooling earth make them particularly susceptible to a warming one, notes Near.

“Given their strong polar adaptations and their inability to acclimate to warmer water temperatures, climate change could devastate this most interesting lineage of fish with a unique evolutionary history,” Near said.

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Yale-affliated authors of the study are Alex Dornburg, Kristen L. Kuhn, and Jillian N. Pennington.

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I have to wonder though, what warming/climate change in Antarctica?

Maybe they are thinking of the surface record on the peninsula, where the greatest concentration of research stations, people, and energy use is. The air temperature there shows an increase.

But sea temperature near the peninsula doesn’t seem to be on the rise:

Or maybe they’ve spent too much time looking at Eric Steig’s graph:

http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/antarctic_warming_2009.png?w=600&h=462

Real Climate’s Dr. Eric Steig’s version, 2009 – from the cover of Nature

Instead of the one from 2004 before the Mannian PCA team math was applied to it:

Of course we now know thanks to O’Donnell et al that the whole “Antarctica is warming” theme from Steig and the team was just another statistical fabrication of air temperature.

Condon and O”Donnell’s Antarctic temperature profile, 2010.

It seems all the warming is in the peninsula, in the air temperature record, where all the people and energy use to keep them warm is.

Antarctica as a whole is not warming much at the surface, and as the UAH lower troposphere graph shows, not at all above the surface.

Antarctic sea ice seems to agree, it has an upward trend:

Joshua Corning makes an excellent point in comments:

“tens of millions of years ago a lineage of fish adapted to newly formed polar conditions”

“A rise of 2 degrees centigrade of water temperature will likely have a devastating impact on this Antarctic fish lineage”

That is weird…one wonders how they survived the far greater temperature changes over the past 20 million years.

You know…when Antarctica melted then froze gain….(image from Wikipedia)

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Joshua Corning

“tens of millions of years ago a lineage of fish adapted to newly formed polar conditions”
“A rise of 2 degrees centigrade of water temperature will likely have a devastating impact on this Antarctic fish lineage”
That is weird…one wonders how they survived the far greater temperature changes over the past 20 million years.
You know…when Antarctica melted then froze gain….
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1b/65_Myr_Climate_Change.png

David Banks

Anthony don’t let a little thing called facts get in the way of a great fairy tale.

“climate change could devastate this most interesting lineage of fish with a unique evolutionary history”
Yup. It could. Can someone please make a definite statement? Maybe, just maybe, these fish can adapt in the other direction. But that would be too easy. Or maybe these fellers could be making it all up. After all, the Druid’s Summertime Cruise was there…and hmmmm….why haven’t we heard a grand pronouncement?

Lets see, during a period of rapid cooling the fish adapted.
During a period of rapid warming the fish give up and die.
Now I get it.

morgo

All I can say I am disappointed In Yale University to go so low just to get a research grant ,hang your heads in shame

Peter Plail

I also wonder how they know the fish will die out if they warm up.
First place your fish in a pan of icy water and gradually heat. Note the temperature at which the fish expire. Since the process can’t be reversed, carry on to boiling point and enjoy a fish supper. Sorry for a somewhat tasteless suggestion, but probably not as tasteless as fish with antifreeze inside.
Seriously, though, where is the evidence that an increase of 2 degrees is the magic number? It strikes me that the cessation of whaling might just be more of a threat to the fish, but, like the temperature change, it is simply conjecture. Where is the science?

MarcH

What is it about the biological sciences that leads to it consistently producing such nonsensical conclusions?
Here’s another: Climate change could see the end of snails:
https://theconversation.edu.au/climate-change-could-see-the-end-of-snails-5274

Me

And here I always thought fish needed liquid water to live in.

How does one distinguish that glycoproteins in fish, even if they did develop 22 million years ago, developed in response to a cooler habitat that was 1. part of a global redistribution of temperatures or 2. because the fish wanted to go to live in colder waters further south or 3. that they wanted to live in deeper, colder water, with a different predator set?
Given the possibility of temperature rises and falls in the last 22 million years, why is February 2012 so important in the scheme of things?

johanna

What nonsense.
Leaving aside the improbability of the Antarctic oceans warming 2 degrees, there are pretty much no fish species that cannot withstand temperature fluctuations of that order. They do so all the time, just swimming around.
How anybody with even an undergraduate biology degree would put their name to this stuff is baffling. They have no sense of shame at all.
BTW, that fish has a face only its mother would love!

wayne Job

Mike Bromley the the Canucklehead,
You mention the Druids cruise into the summer of the Antarctic, oddly their output has been some what subdued, it would appear that the love boat cruised into an area that was 25c below the norm for this time of year. That would put a damper on any ones holiday, and to try and spin that into global warming would be a folly inviting ridicule. You may have to wait a while for the spinmiesters to come to terms with the Gore effect.

Mike McMillan

22 to 42 million years. They’ve had a good run. Polar bears, snail darters, and spotted owls could take a lesson.
I wonder how much of Antarctica was above water during the last ice age. Those fish (and penguins) must have moved considerably north and had to endure very salty water as the oceans piled up on Chicago.

Kasuha

But of course they will all die out because ever since there is global warming climate disruption inconvenience, the evolution has stopped and no mutations occur anymore. This means all these fish are all exactly the same and will all die at exactly the same temperature. Am I getting it right?

Antonia

” … a lineage of fish adapted to newly formed polar conditions”. OK, so why can’t a lineage of fish adapt to newly formed warmer conditions if they occur? What’s the problem?
Why do climate scientists and Greens think the earth’s climate should remain the same as it was when they were 20, or 10? With that mindset they are the real ‘deniers’ of climate change. The rest of us accept that climate does change and that the only intelligent response is to adapt to it. Like the fish.

Charles.U.Farley

Oh deary me! This fish might die if it cannot adapt.
We must spend more money in third world countries and de-industrialise the whole planet if theyre to survive.
Natural selection in action- adapt to survive, just like every other species thats ever existed-anywhere.
Headobangosaurus was a dinosaur that lived about a month after nature decided to program it to bash its brains in on a wall for no reason, so quite surprisingly it died out then……

A new paper Increasing rates of ice mass loss from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets revealed by GRACE (Velicogna 2009) analyses the latest results from the GRACE satellite data to discern the trend in mass change in the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets.
Antarctica is losing ICE MASS – seasonal SEA ICE does tell the real picture.
http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2009/2009GL040222.shtml
http://www.skepticalscience.com/images/Antarctica_Ice_Mass.gif
Figure 2: Time series of ice mass changes for the Antarctic ice sheet estimated from GRACE monthly mass solutions for the period from April 2002 to February 2009. Unfiltered data are blue crosses. Data filtered for the seasonal dependence using a 13-month window are shown as red crosses. The best-fitting quadratic trend is shown (green line).

Gee, you’d think the fish would have the sense to join the penguins and hang around a bit further South. It should be nice and cool under an iceberg or two.

From a competiviness point of view it seems obvious that it is enough that the water temperature goes below freezing occasinally. If a fish does’nt have built in antifreeze the moment it gets really cold it dies. The cooling liquid in my car in southern Finland stands ca -40 deg C even if temperatures seldom go below -30. Should I replace the antifreeze with something meant for southern Europe? Surely not because even a short temperature dip could be totally destructive and extremely expensive. I could see no indication in the graphs that the water environment where the fish lives is warming.

Disko Troop

Geoff…Feb 2012 is so important because we are coming up to the allocation of next years research grants. Anyone who has not produced some global warnings this year will get nowt next year. Q E D.

d

Lets face it someone could do some “research” on kentucky Blue grass and the impact of global warming and probably get some grant money for it so its no wonder that we see articles like this.

Goldie

Are they edible? How would they go with chips? Seriously though, they’d better not be, otherwise they would really face some serious population pressure.

Charles Gerard Nelson

Normally I take garbage like the above story with a pinch of salt…but for some strange reason on this occasion I feel an inexplicable urge to try and ‘beat some sense’ into Messrs Near Luhnberg and Co!
Snip me…I’d understand.

Rod Gill

Even in 1,000 years there will still be ice in Antarctica. Sea temperatures around the coast will always therefore be around -4C (temp sea ice freezes at).
Willis has shown from Argo buoy stats that sea at equator almost never rises above 30C so does this mean the sub tropical sea will rise 4C or more to produce a global 2c rise? I can swim in the sea all year? Excellent!
Could increase sea currents quite a lot with some interesting regional climate changes. Almost a shame it isn’t going to happen.

David L

morgo on February 14, 2012 at 12:33 am said:
All I can say I am disappointed In Yale University to go so low just to get a research grant ,hang your heads in shame
———————
Yale gave Mann a PhD… Now there’s something to really be ashamed about.

Espen

According to Bob Tisdale, Southern Ocean SST fell 0.99 deg C last month, so what are they worrying about? As you can see fro Bob’s chart, SST has now for 4 years been at levels lower than in almost all of the preceding ~30 years:
http://bobtisdale.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/13-southern.png

EternalOptimist

Those fish with anti freeze can be unpredictable and dangerous. I brought some home and put them in my freezer, two days later when my wife went to get some milk, they jumped out and bit her.

John Marshall

Throughout geological history species have risen then become extinct. It is what happens. But the temperature anomalies do not seem to be much different from the natural variation and a 0.5C anomaly when its -20C still means it’s cold enough for ice to remain ice. I think these fish will continue to thrive without alarmists shouting the odds.

PaulsNZ

Me thinks the AGW crowd are manic depressive demons who will stop at nothing to destroy humans, Garlic and Silver are our only weapons. 😉

Garry Stotel

@Goldie
Those fish are sold in Russia, called “Ice Fish”, and they are THE tastiest damn fish you would ever try – as the fish eat nothing but prawns, their meat is unbelievably tender, wtih a very delicate prawn flavour. Also, They have a strange bone structure, so after cooking them for about a minute (no more), the whole skeleton can be separated. Oh, and they have skin, but no scales (or very tiny ones)…
I ate loads of them when I lived there….

ScuzzaMan

Personally, I like the use of the word “illustrates” in the original article. What they are really saying is that they SPECULATE on how the fish adapted at some past time, but then they use this speculation as if it is an evidentiary truth, and then some more logical magic happens, and they conclude that a bit of warming will devastate this species apparently capable of incredible temperature adaptation but only in one direction.
But the whole argumentative edifice rests on accepting that they know how the original adaptation happened, with enough certainty and understanding to predict that it cannot happen in reverse.
This is a greatly different thing from simply accepting that adaptation occurred.
I call bollocks on the whole shebang.

DirkH

Goldie says:
February 14, 2012 at 2:02 am
“Are they edible? How would they go with chips?”
They’re spiny.

Karl-Johan Lehtinen

It´s amazing that a reputable university as Yale is conducting research of this kind. I figure they would not have been financed had they not referred to climate warming.

Ian H

You repeatedly mention the Antarctic peninsula as being “where the people and energy use is”. I believe you are making a false implication here. This suggests that peninsula warming is the product of some kind of urban heat island effect. But you are talking about a handful of very tiny (a few dozen buildings) and isolated research stations scattered across an absolutely huge frozen continent. Not much chance of an urban heat island effect going on there I’d say. Furthermore there are similar research stations located right across the Antarctic. They are not predominately in the peninsula. So I’m not sure what you are trying to get at here. Yes the warming is in the peninsula. But it really does seem to be getting warmer in the peninsula. It isn’t some kind of measurement error, and it isn’t an urban heat island effect from all those scientists toasting their sandwiches.

Steve (Paris)

So when it warms up here in Europe I’ll have to drain the antifreeze from my car or it will die?

Werd ich zum Augenblicke sagen:
Verweile doch! du bist so schön!

Gute Deutsche sind immer bereit, die Weltordnung zu beheben, wann immer sie von ihrem Glauben abweicht, was auch immer der Preis ist.

Luther Wu

Life’s too short to go without humor.
Thanks, Yale University, for another howler.

Bill Marsh

I always love ‘scientific’ studies that consist of nothing more than speculation. “If’ temperatures rise 2C (air temperatures or sea temperatures), then this fish species ‘could’ be devastated. Well, ‘if’ temperatures rise 2C, ‘wouldn’t’ the species that this fish displaced move back in to the area?
“If’ temperatures drop 2C, then fish species in the tropics ‘could’ be devastated (or maybe this fish expands its range. See, I can do ‘science’ too.

Could it be that there are too many profs around these days?

olsthro

Anthony, your global temp reference page has not been updated to show january’s results. love the site and thank you for your efforts.

Steve C

“I have to wonder though, what warming/climate change in Antarctica?”
– With the graph that follows those words, the perfect comment on the matter!
That feller does have a sort of Neanderthal look to him. The penguins are welcome.

Harold Ambler

From “The Vanishing Ice Caps,” a chapter in DSYC:
For the Nature article on Antarctica, Steig and Mann devised a statistical means of indicating warming more or less throughout Antarctica. In a nutshell, they took some mild warming from western Antarctica, especially the Peninsula, and generalized it eastward, covering the entire continent. But 98 percent of the continent remains bitterly cold, and no one disputes that. Also, the temperature recorded at the South Pole is agreed to have declined during the last 75 years.
More here: http://amzn.to/w0Lj6H

Khwarizmi

Ross from Brisbane – “A new paper Increasing rates of ice mass loss from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets revealed by GRACE.. ”
Amen. But when will the sea levels arise? Or can that satellite of love up in the sky not tell us that?

Byron

MarcH says:
February 14, 2012 at 12:49 am
What is it about the biological sciences that leads to it consistently producing such nonsensical conclusions?
In a word ….Funding
I suspect that as much of the West`s financial resources availible for research have been “misappropriated” by the global warming meme that , unless Your research has the “global warming —> endangered” tag somewhere in the header , funding simply isn`t available . A rather sad indictment of the post-normal state of science in modern institutions when research for the sake of understanding how things work is regarded as an unworthy pursuit.

schnurrp

Joshua Corning says:
February 14, 2012 at 12:12 am
“tens of millions of years ago a lineage of fish adapted to newly formed polar conditions”
“A rise of 2 degrees centigrade of water temperature will likely have a devastating impact on this Antarctic fish lineage”
That is weird…one wonders how they survived the far greater temperature changes over the past 20 million years.
You know…when Antarctica melted then froze gain….
“Man-made” warming is likely to be more harmful!

Claude Harvey

Isn’t that string of underwater volcanoes under its western region warming certain Antarctic waters more than normal these days? That might lend credence to the “warming waters” part of the story, but certainly not the “global warming” attribution.

Mike M

And if you are left wondering how exactly Thomas Near knows about “their inability to acclimate to warmer water temperatures” it is really really simple – he asked them!

KnR

What this research really tell us is that the AGW ‘research ‘ is still deep and well filled , so there are plenty of people willing to stick their hands in it to grasp as much as they can while they can.
I am just waiting for the research that ‘proves’ AGW is the reason more people don’t win the lottery .

Mike M
KenB

Has a certain railway engineer issued an appeal for alarmist (doesn’t matter how idiotic) for touting in the IPCC report as robust peer reviewed and published gospel.???

R Barker

Food supply. All about food supply. Fish adapt to access more abundant food supplies. Researchers adapt to access more abundant supplies of funding. It appears that most all living things tend to adapt to what nature presents. It is neither good nor evil. In the case of research money there appears to be elements of compromise if not corruption.