Oceans are changing and they are changing fast. As human activities continue to alter our marine environment it begs us to question what our future oceans will look like and how might the fishery resources we are reliant upon change. Many organisms in the sea have responded negatively to this change, however, we found there is one group of animals that appear to be thriving: cephalopods, otherwise known as squid, cuttlefish, and octopuses. Cephalopods have a unique set of characteristics, such as fast growth, short life spans and extreme life history plasticity (i.e. flexibility) that allow them to adapt rapidly to changing environmental conditions. Our study presents the first evidence that cephalopod populations have increased globally and that environmental change, brought about by human activities, may be giving cephalopods a competitive edge in the marine food web.
Here's a video summary of our research put together for the 2016 Peer Prize for Women in Science (Earth and Environmental Science Category). This prize was a joint submission between Gillanders and her postdoctoral researcher on the project, Dr Zoe Doubleday.
The research was funded by the Environment Institute, University of Adelaide (grant to BMG).
For more information please see:
Doubleday, Zoe A; Thomas AA Prowse, Alexander Arkhipkin, Graham J Pierce, Jayson Semmens, Michael Steer, Stephen C. Leporati, Silvia Lourenco, Antoni Quetglas, Warwick Sauer and Bronwyn M. Gillanders (2016) Global proliferation of cephalopods. Current Biology 26(10): R406-R407.