Einstein Science Reporting for Kids
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4-Jul-2003

Contact: Science Press Package
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American Association for the Advancement of Science

Can crabs get used to warmer water?



Top view of a porcelain crab also known as Petrolisthes. Porcelian crabs like to hide under stones during low tide to keep cool. Courtesy of Jonathon Stillman. Click here for a high resolution photograph.

You know how bath water feels really hot in the beginning, but then you get used to it? Scientists want to know if ocean animals can adjust in a similar way. It's an important question, because ocean waters are likely to warm up a little in the future, due to climate change.



This type of crab, known as P. hirtipes, lives near the Northern Gulf of California. Courtesy of Jonathon Stillman. Click here for a high resolution photograph.

Ecologist Jonathon Stillman of Stanford University in California found that some crab species, called Porcelain crabs, that live along the West Coast may have more trouble getting used to warmer water temperatures than others, according to a study to be published in the 4 July 2003 issue of the journal Science.

He tested how well the crabs' hearts worked under warmer-than-usual water conditions. This information helps describe how these crabs will respond to increasing habitat temperatures.



P. eriomerus lives in colder waters of the northeastern Pacific. Courtesy of Jonathon Stillman. Click here for a high resolution photograph.

He discovered that one crab species, found along the shores of the Northern Gulf of California, is probably already having trouble getting used to the warmer water that it now lives in.

Watching how organisms respond to increasing temperatures can help scientists more clearly understand the direct impacts that climate change has on life across the globe.

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