Free Newsletters - Space News - Defense Alert - Environment Report - Energy Monitor
. Earth Science News .




WATER WORLD
Mussels cramped by environmental factors
by Staff Writers
Boston MA (SPX) Feb 28, 2013


Mussels anchor themselves to each other, rocks and other solid objects with byssal threads. Credit: L Coutts/Friday Harbor Laboratories/UW.

The fibrous threads helping mussels stay anchored - in spite of waves that sometimes pound the shore with a force equivalent to a jet liner flying at 600 miles per hour - are more prone to snap when ocean temperatures climb higher than normal.

At the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Boston, Emily Carrington, a University of Washington professor of biology, reported that the fibrous threads she calls "nature's bungee cords" become 60 percent weaker in water that was 15 degrees F (7 C) above typical summer temperatures where the mussels were from.

"Conditions that harm mussel populations affect commercial growers and, because mussels are at the foundation of the marine food web, also deprive predators such as crabs, lobsters and sea anemones of food," Carrington said.

Such research might one day help natural resources managers in Washington, where Carrington's work was done, and elsewhere estimate future abundance correctly and recognize areas with conditions most favorable to mussel survival. It might lead commercial growers to breed resistant varieties or be on the lookout to invest in the most promising locations for the future.

Carrington was the sole environmental biologist on a panel at the American Association for the Advancement of Science symposium on how to develop adhesives similar to mussels.

"Certainly spider silk is the darling of the biomaterials world because of its high strength. But the spotlight is getting brighter for mussels because they make strong, tough, durable attachments that can set underwater," Carrington said.

"What biologists can contribute to the materials science arena is an appreciation of biodiversity," she said. "Mussels live in all kinds of habitats. Some species are experts at gluing onto sea grass, some to other shells, some even adhere in the harsh conditions of hydrothermal vents. They each may have different genes that code for different proteins so the adhesive will be a little different and worth exploring."

Mussels form attachments to rocks, fellow mussels and other surfaces with what's called the byssus, a mass of golden-colored threads or filaments. Although each strand is only three to 10 times the width of a human hair, the threads are extraordinarily strong and stretchy, she says.

That's good, given the forces at work where mussels live in the intertidal zone, the part of the shore covered by water when the tide is in and high and dry when it's out. says a modest wave on the outer coast of Washington clips along at 10 meters per second.

"An inland stream with water moving at only one meter per second is very hard to stand in," she said. "Imagine something going 10 times that speed - over your whole body."

Carrington calculates that wind would have to blow 600 miles per hour to generate the same force as water traveling 10 meters per second.

Carrington's work, based at the UW's Friday Harbor Laboratories and funded by the National Science Foundation, involves field observations of natural populations that she and her team try to repeat in the laboratory. In the lab they change one factor at a time - considering such stressors as temperature and ocean acidification - to understand which of many possible environmental culprits are most important, she said.

For example in lab experiments led by UW doctoral student Laura Newcomb, the strength of byssal threads formed in water at 77 degrees F (25 C) were 60 percent weaker compared to those formed at 50 F and 65 F (10 C and 18 C). The waters in the natural habitat around Friday Harbor Laboratories is typically 50-54 F (12-14 C) in the summer, she said, although in places like shallow bays it can be much higher.

Scientists have previously found that the byssus weakens naturally in late summer and early fall. When autumn hurricanes and storms hit, both wild and commercially farmed mussels are then more prone to "fall off." In work she did on the U.S. east coast, for example, the early storms of fall wiped one third of the mussels from where they'd been attached. Even winter's nor'easters cause less fall off because the byssus by then has regained strength.

"We're trying to learn what causes this seasonal weakening - is it related to warmer weather, their spawning cycle or something else," she said. "And now we want to know if increased environmental fluctuations will help put them over the edge."

"The mussel is a keystone species in rocky intertidal areas," says David Garrison, director of the National Science Foundation's Biological Oceanography Program, which funded the research. "Detachment of mussels results in lost habitat for myriad other organisms."

.


Related Links
Carrington lab
Friday Harbor Laboratories
UW Ocean Acidification Environmental Laboratory directed by Carrington
Water News - Science, Technology and Politics






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





WATER WORLD
EU ministers reach deal on fish discard ban
Brussels (AFP) Feb 27, 2013
EU fishery ministers agreed Wednesday how to implement a ban on discards - the wasteful practice of dumping unwanted fish overboard - but failed to satisfy environmental groups. After talks Tuesday ran overnight, ministers reached a "general approach" on the discard ban adopted in June last year as part of an overhaul of fisheries policy to put it on a more sustainable basis. The key p ... read more


WATER WORLD
Weather warning

Salvage crews break up US Navy ship in Philippines

Rio meet focuses on using science to root out poverty

British PM sparks concern with aid budget proposals

WATER WORLD
Ancient Egyptian pigment points to new security ink technology

Laser mastery narrows down sources of superconductivity

In probing mysteries of glass, researchers find a key to toughness

Glasses.com turns heads with 3-D iPad app

WATER WORLD
Maps depict potential worldwide coral bleaching by 2056

Mussels cramped by environmental factors

EU ministers reach deal on fish discard ban

Vibrant Mix of Marine Life Found at Extreme Ocean Depths

WATER WORLD
Caves point to thawing of Siberia

Fiennes's evacuation from Antarctica under way

Data paper describes Antarctic biodiversity data gathered by 90 expeditions since 1956

Frostbite ends Fiennes winter Antarctic expedition bid

WATER WORLD
World agriculture suffers from loss of wild bees: study

Maize part of coastal Peru diet for 5,000 years

Why sourdough bread resists mold

Cold-tolerant grapes expand wine country

WATER WORLD
6.9-magnitude quake hits off Russian far east: USGS

'Lucky' Australians dodge cyclone's worst

Australian cyclone crossing Western Australian coast

Earthquake shakes buildings in Tokyo

WATER WORLD
Amnesty International accuses I. Coast army of abuses

Regional leaders sign peace deal for eastern DR Congo

Guinea soldiers quit I.Coast village in border dispute

Rising Islamist threat in West Africa

WATER WORLD
Human cognition depends upon slow-firing neurons

Blueprint for an artificial brain

Early human burials varied widely but most were simple

Could a computer on the police beat prevent violence?




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