Wednesday May 10, 2023

University of Toronto Scarborough

A new U of T Scarborough study finds that climate change is causing a commercially significant marine crab to lose its sense of smell, which could partially explain why their populations are thinning.

The research was done on Dungeness crabs and found that ocean acidification causes them to physically sniff less, impacts their ability to detect food odours and even decreases activity in the sensory nerves responsible for smell.  

“This is the first study to look at the physiological effects of ocean acidification on the sense of smell in crabs,” says Cosima Porteus, an assistant professor in the department of biological sciences at U of T Scarborough and co-author of the study along with postdoc Andrea Durant.      

Ocean acidification is the result of the Earth’s oceans becoming more acidic due to absorbing increasing amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. It’s a direct consequence of burning fossil fuels and carbon pollution, and several studies have shown it’s having an impact on the behaviour of marine wildlife.

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