Free Newsletters - Space News - Defense Alert - Environment Report - Energy Monitor
by Staff Writers
Birmingham, England (UPI) Dec 18, 2012
An invasive species, a tiny insect, has the potential to drastically alter Antarctic ecosystems isolated for millions of years, British researchers say.
Scientists at the British Antarctic Survey say the midge, well-suited to thrive in the extreme conditions, has released large volumes of nutrients into the soil and has altered the manner in which native species had lived and evolved.
The non-biting insect Eretmoptera murphyi has, in effect, removed certain controls on the development of the native community, they said.
"In terms of function, their job is litter turnover -- they help things decay in the soil -- and the population density of this thing in the area where it has been introduced is responsible for more litter turnover than the community that was already there," researcher Peter Convey said.
He was presenting the research at the annual meeting of the British Ecological Society in Birmingham, the BBC reported Tuesday.
"So basically it is bringing a function into an ecosystem that is not very active already," Convey said. "In principle, it can be a fundamental change in the way that ecosystem works."
"If you widen [this issue] beyond this particular species then probably the biggest risk is that we could drive locally or generally extinct some of the unique species that already exist in part of the Antarctic," he told the BBC.
Beyond the Ice Age
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement|