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Adaptations of Antarctic Marine Animals and Changing Environments

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  • UserProfessor Lloyd Peck (Science Leader of Biodiversity, Evolution and Adaptation Team, British Antarctic Survey & Fellow of Wolfson College)
  • ClockFriday 11 June 2021, 18:00-19:00
  • HouseWolfson College Zoom meeting.

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The Southern Ocean is the coldest ocean on Earth. Its temperatures are amongst the most stable of the global marine environment with most places having annual temperature ranges of less than 3°C, and some places less than 1°C. Total darkness in winter and 24 h sunlight in summer results in very short summer phytoplankton blooms that provide the resources for nearly the whole marine ecosystem. Conditions have been like this for over 15 million years, well long enough for the evolution of specific adaptations to these conditions. This talk will focus on the adaptations of the unique fauna living on the seabed around Antarctica. These include: why some species are giants; why none of the common crabs seen elsewhere in the world live there; how some fish are the only vertebrate species on Earth that can survive without red blood cells, haemoglobin or myoglobin; the growth and development rates that are slower than they should be even at polar temperatures; and why it seems that proteins are much more difficult to make at temperatures around 0°C than at warmer temperatures. It will also deal with how these adaptations affect abilities to respond to environmental change

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This talk is part of the Wolfson College Science Society series.

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