Environmental protection could benefit from ‘micro’ as well as ‘macro’ thinking - University of Southampton

Scientists at the University of Southampton have conducted a study that highlights the importance of studying a full range of organisms when measuring the impact of environmental change – from tiny bacteria, to mighty whales.

Researchers at the University’s School of Ocean and Earth Science, working with colleagues at the universities of Bangor, Sydney and Johannesburg and the UK’s National Oceanography Centre, undertook a survey of marine animals, protists (single cellular organisms) and bacteria along the coastline of South Africa.
Lead researcher and postgraduate student at the University of Southampton, Luke Holman explains: “Typically, biodiversity and biogeography studies focus on one group of species at a time, often animals. Studying animals, protist and bacteria together – organisms vastly different in size, separated by billions of years of evolution – gave us the opportunity to take a broader view of the marine ecosystem. We discovered remarkably consistent biogeographic groupings for the three across the coastline – consistent with previously studied patterns, driven by regional currents.”

Findings are published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.

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