Climate Change Drives Disease in Crucial Seaweed Species, Study Finds
Katherine Bagley, SolveClimate News
July 12, 2011
"Rising ocean temperatures due to global warming have already been linked to coral reef deaths, destructive storms, shifting species distributions and harmful algal blooms. Now, a team of Australian researchers is adding a new and similarly daunting concern to that list: the spread of disease in "habitat-forming" seaweeds that are critical to marine health.
Scientists fear that the widespread loss of these seaweeds could have disastrous effects on creatures that rely on them for food and protection, such as sea hares, sea urchins and dozens of fish and invertebrate species.
"Seaweeds are the 'trees' of coastal temperate systems," said Peter Steinberg, a marine biologist at the University of New South Wales and director of the Sydney Institute of Marine Science, who helped lead the research that was published in the journal Global Change Biology last month."
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