International scientists at FOS to study animal responses to climate change



Article by AP Dr. David Marshall


Earlier this year Drs Nasreen Peer and Nelson Marinda, from the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, South Africa visited FOS to work with AP Dr David Marshall and graduate students. For the past decade Dr Marshall’s team has undertaken research on responses of animals to climate change. Their research has drawn from the natural high biodiversity of marine gastropods in Brunei. The marine intertidal zone (between the high shore and low shore) supports a wealth of gastropods, and exposes animals to some of the most severe heating conditions on the planet, providing an ideal model system for investigating climate change. A recent general book on molecular and biochemical physiology highlighted this research and recognises a primary study species of the group, Echinolittorina malaccana, as among the most heat tolerant of multicellular animals (it survives thermal exposures of more than 55°C). However, there many missing pieces to the puzzle of the interaction of organisms and their environment in climate change biology, which motivated the visit by Drs Peer and Marinda.


The collaborative research yielded highly novel findings. It showed that a standard metric (thermal tolerance, the maximum temperature that an organism can tolerate) is likely in many cases to mispredict how species will respond to heat wave exposure (several days of higher than normal environmental warming). This work is currently being prepared for journal publication. Two FOS graduate students, Nurul Amalina Binti Brahim and Nurshida Atiqah Binti Mustapha are continuing with this research for their Master’s degrees.


Figure 1 - AP Dr. David Marshall, with Nurul Amalina Binti Brahim and Nurshida Atiqah Binti Mustapha, Environmental and Life Sciences Masters students, pictured here with Dr. Nasreen Peer and Dr. Nelson Marinda, from the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, South Africa during their visit.