Climate changes, oysters

Climate change now also poses a real threat to the most tolerant of all marine creatures, the oysters, as per a new study.

Weather events linked to climate change may result in flooding which in turn threatens the existence of the Olympia oyster. The oceans across the globe are typically having a salt content of nearly 3.5 per cent; however, this percentage alters further in the shallow coastal waters which get affected more due to rainfall.

For the study, the researchers examined three Olympia oyster groups thriving in different regions in California coast having salt content difference due to rainfall.

One group of Olympia oyster was a native to a huge coastal area which was exposed to routine flooding by heavy rainfall, resulting in decreased salt content in the surrounding of the oyster.

The second group of Olympia oyster thrived in a small coastal area which was exposed to less routine flooding while the third Olympia oyster group thrived relatively far away from the huge coastal area where there was higher and stable salt content.

The study was conducted on the Olympia oyster as they’re a foundation species, which means that the existence of the oysters offers habitat to many other small marine species and establishes a better and healthy ecosystem.

If the oysters die, the other associated species will also die out. And as the oysters play an important role in the coastal ecosystem, the researchers wanted to determine whether the oysters thriving in certain coastal regions are better tolerant to lower salt level and as a result are well equipped to thrive through climate change.

The researchers exposed the three Olympia oyster groups as well as their offspring to low sea salt level and then observed their gene pattern. They discovered that those oysters which thrived close to the huge coastal area had a higher tolerance to thrive climate change upon five-day exposure to low salt content sea water.

The results of the study show that climate change is a big concern when it comes to the survival and existence of the most tolerant oysters because of the expected increase in rainfall events which would leave them exposed to extended periods of lower sea salt.


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