That climate change is affecting the distribution of marine stocks is a fact. While the ocean warms up, animals have 3 choices: to adapt to the new situation, move to cooler waters or become extinct. But what about species that are not able to move? Here the options are reduced to 2.
In Galicia (NW Spain) we eat and breath seafood. Animals that, with a limited or complete lack of movement, are particularly vulnerable to climate change.
My research is focused on stalked barnacles (percebes), a brave crustacean that inhabits the rocky shores, subjected to waves. Barnacles stick to rocks by one of the strongest glues in nature; an inspiration for research about new adherent materials. Hence their options for escape are severely limited. It is not an easy task for fishers to get them, usually risking their lives on cliffs with strong wave exposure. Considered as a delicacy in Spain and Portugal, barnacle prices can easily reach 150 euros per kilo at Christmas.
During my PhD I am working not just to gain a better understanding of the biology of barnacles, but also to integrate our knowledge of them using a bioeconomic model that predicts the best management strategy for sustainable resource use. At least, since they cannot escape, I would like them to remain in the best way possible.
My research is not only useful for barnacles, but for all fisheries resources that, like them, do not move. And here science offers culture a helping hand. In a place where thousands of people depend on the sea for a living, scientific tools help us to preserve a way of life, an identity, our culture.
After 8 years of study, percebes along with other barnacle species inspired Charles Darwin to formulate the principles of the natural selection theory. Let´s see where they take us now!
To be updated on the lastest news of my PhD take a look at the website of my lab
As part of my masters from the University of York (UK), I took part in an expedition to Svalbard during the summer of 2015. The study, in combination with a previous results from an Antarctic expedition, suggest that the bacteria and archaea living in glaciers here could be modifying the air bubbles trapped in the ice. The publication can be found here