PNAS has pre-released an interesting set of papers emerging from last year’s Sackler colloquium “In the Light of Evolution II: Biodiversity and Extinction.” As you might expect from a series of talks discussing Mass Extinction VI: The Wrath of Homo, many of the papers are rather bleak. Perhaps the darkest and most provocative of the lot is Jeremy Jackson’s contribution, “ecological extinction and evolution in the brave new ocean.”
Drawing predictive insight from oceanic “dead zones“, Jackson suggests that overfishing coupled with anthropogenic alteration of oceanic biogeochemistry (e.g. acidification driven by increasing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, eutrophication driven by nitrogenous fertilizer runoff) may trigger a massive restructuring of ocean ecosystems. In this new ocean-order jellies and microbes will reign supreme while we “higher” metazoans will presumably fall into our new role as tasty triploblastic snacklets. Sort of makes me want to rewrite my recent post-apocalyptic ocean story with a neo-Ediacaran twist.
Anyway you can listen to/read Jackson’s lecture/slide show here (slide 77 is a personal favorite). And why not familiarize yourself with some of our new cnidarian masters over at Catalogue of Organisms?
Or, you could stop eating tuna and replace your lawn with a xeriscape. Right like that’s going to happen.