University of Cambridge > > Behaviour, Ecology & Evolution Seminar Series > Olfactory cues in a changing world

Olfactory cues in a changing world

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Amongst the sensory signals organisms send and receive, chemical signals or ‘olfactory cues’ represent the oldest, yet least investigated sense. In marine systems this ‘chemical language of life’ mediates intra-and interspecific communication amongst most organisms, for many of which olfaction is the primary form of communication. In recent years the impact of changing environmental conditions upon organisms’ ability to successfully utilise chemical signals has become an increasingly debated topic. Climate change associated stressors from temperature change to increased pCO2 and with it in aquatic systems a reduction in water pH have been shown to alter animals’ responses to such ‘infochemicals’ leading to the phenomenon of ‘olfactory disruption’. Here I present our recent work on marine invertebrates we use as model systems to understand the mechanisms that underpin the observed behavioural changes, and link these to endpoints in order to evaluate potential impacts from individual to ecosystem levels. Combining multiple stressors in a changing environment we also evaluate the sub-lethal impacts of plastic derived odour compounds. Since the research group is involved in reach out linking to schools, we show how climate change research is perceived by school children.

This talk is part of the Behaviour, Ecology & Evolution Seminar Series series.

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