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Saturday, May 13, 2017

To Simulate Climate Change, Scientists Build Miniature Worlds

To Simulate Climate Change, Scientists Build Miniature Worlds

Climate change will alter the ecosystems that humanity depends upon in the coming century. But given the complexity of the living world, how can you learn what may happen?

A team of Australian scientists has an answer: miniature ecosystems designed to simulate the impact of climate change. The experiments are already revealing dangers that would have been missed had researchers tried to study individual species in isolation.

“If you just take one fish and put it in a tank and see how it responds to temperature, you can imagine that’s a huge simplification of reality,” said Ivan Nagelkerken, an ecologist at the University of Adelaide who is leading the research effort.

Yet studying an entire ecosystem in nature, made up of thousands of species, has its own drawbacks. “In nature you have all this complexity, and you never know which factor is really causing the outcome you’re observing,” Dr. Nagelkerken said.

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