Earth and Environmental Science Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh

Research Article

Brachiopods and climate change

Lloyd S. Pecka1

a1 British Antarctic Survey, Natural Environment Research Council, High Cross, Madingley Rd, Cambridge, CB3 0ET, UK

ABSTRACT

Animals can respond in three main ways to environments that change and deteriorate. They can cope with their inherent physiological flexibility, evolve or adapt to new conditions, or migrate away to areas consistent with survival. The main factors dictating survival are the rates of change and capacities of species to cope. Articulated brachiopods are known as a group that employ low energy solutions and exhibit slow rates in life histories characters, especially in growth and metabolic rates. This way of life carries with it a range of consequences, including poor abilities to raise metabolic rates to perform work. This brings with it poor abilities to cope with elevated temperature. Slow growth, deferred maturity and low feeding rates make them less likely to produce novel adaptations compared with other marine invertebrate taxa. Being largely restricted to hard substrata and low energy supply environments also makes it harder for them to migrate to new sites compared to other groups, because of the large geographic distances between colonisable areas. The only clear area they may have that gives them advantages is in the flexibility of their larval release strategies, where settlement can be from very short, millimetre-scale distances to hundreds of kilometres.

Key Words:

  • adaptation;
  • aerobic scope;
  • articulated brachiopods;
  • growth;
  • life history;
  • metabolism;
  • migration;
  • survival