Rich Aronson: Up until now, it’s been too cold for crabs to manage to survive in Antarctica. But now, as the climate is warming, those barriers are coming down.
Rich Aronson is a marine scientist at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab.
Rich Aronson: And we can anticipate that if things go in the unfortunate direction that they’re going, they will have an enormous effect on the bottom communities living there.
Aronson told EarthSky that warming waters will probably allow predator king crabs to invade populations of soft-shelled creatures.
Rich Aronson: As the shallow waters warm up, those king crabs will come trotting up from deep water and invade those shallow environments. Likely, the first thing they will do is decimate the brittle stars that are there in enormous numbers.
Also, cold-adapted starfish, clams, and snails would have nowhere to escape.
Rich Aronson: If these crabs make it into shallow water environments – which they will if we don’t get a handle on global carbon emissions right now – they are going to homogenize the marine communities in Antarctica with communities around the world. The world will be a less rich place as this happens.
Our thanks to:
Dauphin Island Sea Lab
University of South Alabama
Dauphin Island, AL
Learning to love science. As a producer for EarthSky, Lindsay Patterson interviews some of the world's most fascinating scientists. Through EarthSky, her work content is syndicated on some of the world's top media websites, including USAToday.com and Reuters.com. Patterson is also charged with helping to stay in steady communication with the thousands of scientists who contribute to EarthSky's work of making the voice of science heard in a noisy world. She graduated from Colorado College with a degree in creative writing, and a keen interest in all forms of journalism and media.