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Why Noah’s Ark won’t work


A Noah’s Ark strategy will fail. In the roughest sense, that’s the conclusion of a first-of-its-kind study that illuminates which marine species may have the ability to survive in a world where temperatures are rising and oceans are becoming acidic.

Two-by-two, or even moderately sized, remnants may have little chance to persist on a climate-changed planet. Instead, for many species, “we’ll need large populations,” says Melissa Pespeni, a biologist at the University of Vermont who led the new research examining how hundreds of thousands of sea urchin larvae responded to experiments where their seawater was made either moderately or extremely acidic.

The study was published on June 11, 2019, in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. MORE

Header image: Purple urchins are fortified with spines and shells. But new research led by UVM’s Melissa Pespeni shows that—to survive—they’ll need large populations that hold rare genetic variants, giving them a chance to adapt in a fast-warming world. Credit: Joshua Brown.

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