Considering just the fauna, mass extinctions can take place, resu

Considering just the fauna, mass extinctions can take place, resulting in the loss of an unprecedented number of endemic species, before they were even known to science (Quartau 2008). Additionally, we should also consider the ecological consequences both for humankind, with the breaking of ecological services, as well as for all other fauna to some extent dependent on the lost biodiversity. Among such ecological services are the maintenance Androgen Receptor Antagonist cost of the

nutrient cycle and soil fertility, the production of food, fuel and medicines, the regulation of hydric resources, air and climate (Commission of the European Communities 2006), and the control of pests or diseases (Price 1987). These roles played by the natural systems highlight how important biodiversity Tubastatin A manufacturer is for sustainable development and general human well-being. Returning to the example of tardigrades, global warming poses the greatest menace to the freshwater species. Rebecchi et al. (2009) recently demonstrated that the limnic species Borealibius zetlandicus is intolerant to

desiccation. In the case of this limitation being shared by other limnic species, they can become extinct in temperate areas such as Southern Europe, where future higher temperatures may turn permanent rivers, ponds and lagoons into temporary ones. The eventual verification that strictly freshwater species are desiccation intolerant should not come as a surprise since the ability to undergo anhydrobiosis is an adaptation of the terrestrial tardigrades and most marine tardigrades are find more known to be desiccation intolerant (Ramazzotti and Maucci 1983). That does not mean, however, that the terrestrial species cannot be endangered by the

climatic changes, since their desiccation tolerances have been proved to differ from one climatic region to another (Horikawa and Higashi 2004), and local adaptation to current climatic patterns is a decisive factor in the current geographic distribution of tardigrades (Faurby et al. 2008; Pilato 1979; Pilato and Binda 2001). In marine environments, tardigrades can be found anywhere, from deep sea floors to beaches, dwelling in the sediments. However being one of the main groups comprising meiofauna, their ecological importance is still poorly understood. On beaches, species distribution follows a tide influenced gradient (Kinchin 1992; Morgan and Lampard 1986). Considering the expected rising of the sea level as yet another consequence of global warming, the species distribution pattern can be totally disrupted along worldwide shores, wherever beaches become permanently flooded. This could mean the loss of immense habitat areas that are vital for the survival of this and other faunal groups. Adrianov (2004) estimates meiofauna to be composed of 20–30 million species, so it is not difficult to imagine how a swift change in the sea level would affect many animal species inhabiting the current tidal zone.

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