Researchers from the University of Nevada Las Vegas have published findingd in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, highlighting how by looking at marine food web fossils, we can get a glimpse into the future of climate change effects.
While some researchers believe that there has been little change over 540 million years, the team showed otherwise. They compared four ancient webs from a Jamaican reef to a modern one. The surprising results showed a high degree of variance from each other. Also, the modern web was not the most similar to the youngest of the webs. The researchers highlight that by looking at how these webs changed over time, we can better understand the impact of climate change on marine ecosystems.
According to study co-author and marine conservation paleobiologist and assistant professor in the UNLV department of geoscience Carrie Tyler:
“Learning how food webs work is very important for conservation because it helps scientists predict how ecosystems will respond to climate change. There is an interconnectedness and dependency between each member, which means when a stressor affects one species, it will ultimately affect the rest of the web. If a species is removed from the structure, the function in the food web may no longer be fulfilled because of the missing piece.”
While UNLV postdoctoral researcher Tyler Roxanne Banker added:
“Using paleontology in this way can help us understand what we should be saving and how to save it, giving us another way to look at conservation efforts. By studying these structures over time, we can find ways to promote more resilient communities now, and in the future.”
You can find the original research here.