A great deal of recent Antarctic research has examined the effects of global warming on the southern most continent’s ecological systems. Previously we’ve noted stories about changes to mosses, and the invasion of King crabs. Most recently though, scientists out of the University of Delaware have been looking at the adaptive nature of the Capitella perarmata, also known as the polar worm.
Since August, the Delaware team undertook a series of dives into the waters near the McMurdo station to collect the polychaet polar worms. For two months, divers to collect sediment samples and then sieved out the worms.
Scientists have been comparing the temperature-adaptive nature of the Capitella perarmata, with that of the Capitella teleta, the polar worm’s temperate counterpart. By comparing these two species, scientists hope to gain a better understanding for how a changing polar environment may trigger a genetic response. This in turn should give insight into the greater impact of climate change on polar ecosystems, and a greater understanding of how Antarctic animals are able to adapt to changing temperatures.