LE3 Variability and Vulnerability of Marine Ecosystems – El Sol de México

Although we have known for many years that both climate variations and human activity can affect marine ecosystems, we are currently faced with pressing uncertainty about the responses of these ecosystems and their resources to the imminent warming of the ocean, the increase in climate variability, the occurrence of extreme weather events, such as hurricanes, and human pressure. It has been proposed that global warming, a long-term change intensified by the burning of fossil fuels and the emission of gases, such as carbon dioxide, that trap heat in the atmosphere, will generate substantial changes in marine ecosystems. Global warming projections suggest that each additional degree of temperature rise will result in increasingly severe impacts on climate, sea levels, and biodiversity. In this context, in the strategic line ““Variability and Vulnerability of Marine Ecosystems” At the Northwest SC Biological Research Center in the Fisheries Ecology Program, various investigations are carried out in order to analyze how environmental variability, climate change and human activity impact marine ecosystems and their resources.

In the Gulf of California, one of the marine ecosystems with the greatest productivity and biological diversity in the world, studies are being carried out aimed at understanding the benthic species (species that live at the bottom of bodies of water) that exist in its waters, its current distribution and changes with respect to the past, its population dynamics and reproduction capacity, with the aim of locating species that present invasive potential, as well as the areas of greatest risk of the establishment of invasive species in the future and with this, contribute relevant information to take actions to prevent and preserve biodiversity in a megadiverse ecosystem like the Gulf of California.

In recent decades, efforts have been made to integrate increasingly diverse approaches, tools and disciplines into research, combining field work, laboratory bioassays, integration and analysis of data from different sources and mathematical models with various techniques. analytics such as histology, physiology, population genomics, transcriptomics, epigenetics, bioenergetics, among others. All of this aimed at the construction of ecological models that allow projecting the impacts of climate change on resources. An example is the research carried out to understand the multiple responses to the impacts of increased temperature and its variability in the lion’s hand clam. Nodipecten subnodosusin order to obtain a more precise estimate of the species’ vulnerability to climate change.

In relation to climate change, scenarios have been proposed that project increases in temperature, acidification and turbulence in seawater. These conditions could affect the maintenance of marine species if the optimal levels at which they can live are exceeded. On the western coast of the Baja California Peninsula, being located in the temperate-tropical transition region of the Mexican Pacific, changes in environmental conditions occur that must be considered to determine the magnitude of possible impacts on organisms. In this regard, work is being done to create time series of environmental variables in recent years, such as temperature, pH and upwelling using chemical markers in the shells of long-lived organisms, such as clams. Panopeia spp. The information generated will allow the investigation of biological responses to past and future environmental changes, and will serve as a baseline for accurate projections of climate change in the temperate-tropical transition region in the Mexican Pacific.

Added to environmental changes is plastic pollution, a global problem that affects the health of marine organisms and ecosystems. These contaminants are bioavailable to a variety of organisms that use different feeding strategies. In this sense, the bioaccumulation and transfer of plastics and microplastics (<5 mm) in marine food chains is being evaluated with the purpose of understanding the mechanism by which which are transferred to the species and with it their potential ecological effects. Efforts are also being made to assess the metal accumulation capacity of various marine resources, including macroalgae, in relation to changes in the amount of nutrients and the physicochemical conditions associated with variations in seawater temperature.

Altogether, this type of research allows us to understand the possible responses of species and ecosystems to environmental changes and, where appropriate, generate scenarios aimed at making decisions for the preservation of marine ecosystems, as well as the best future use. of resources in the northwest region of the country, mainly.

To meet the staff of the CIBNOR Fisheries Ecology Academic Program (La Paz Unit and Guaymas Unit) go to

Figure 1. Lion’s hand clam Nodipecten subnodosus. (Rosa Isela Vázquez Sánchez)

Figure 2. Clam Panopeia (Dr. Sergio Scarry González Peláez).

Figure 3. Microplastics in marine resources (Dr. Víctor Manuel Muro Torres).

Figure 4. Accumulation of trace elements in marine resources (Dr. Lía C. Méndez Rodríguez).

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