Hypoxia- Dead Zones


1. Dead zones hamper the food web of a region. For example, the most common organism found dead in hypoxic conditions is the crab. With lesser number of crabs, the number of limpets in the ocean will increase, reason being that crabs feed on limpets.
There will also be a decrease in the number of seagulls, octopuses and seals as they all feed on crabs. From this we can see that dead zones can cause a drastic change in the ecosystem of an aquatic environment which can have severe consequences.

2. In a study of the Gulf killifish by the Southeastern Louisiana University done in three bays along the Gulf Coast, fish living in bays where the oxygen levels in the water dropped to 1 to 2 parts per million (ppm) for 3 or more hours per day were found to have smaller reproductive organs. The male gonads were 34% to 50% as large as males of similar size in bays where the oxygen levels were normal (6 to 8 ppm). Females were found to have ovaries that were half as large as those in normal oxygen levels. The number of eggs in females living in hypoxic waters were only one-seventh the number of eggs in fish living in normal oxygen levels. (Landry, et al., 2004)

Fish raised in laboratory-created hypoxic conditions showed extremely low sex-hormone concentrations and increased elevation of activity in two genes triggered by the hypoxia-inductile factor (HIF) protein. Under hypoxic conditions, HIF pairs with another protein, ARNT. The two then bind to DNA in cells, activating genes in those cells.

3. Under normal oxygen conditions, ARNT combines with estrogen to activate genes. Hypoxic cells in a test tube didn't react to estrogen placed in the tube. HIF appears to render ARNT unavailable to interact with estrogen, providing a mechanism by which hypoxic conditions alter reproduction in fish. (Johanning, et al., 2004)

It might be expected that fish would flee this potential suffocation, but they are often quickly rendered unconscious and doomed. Slow moving bottom-dwelling creatures like clams, lobsters and oysters are unable to escape. All colonial animals are extinguished. The normal re-mineralization and recycling that occurs among benthic life-forms is stifled.

4. Dead zones increase the dead organic matter in the area which in turn increases the bacteria in environment; and as most dead zones occur next to inhabited coastlines, there is a high chance that some of these bacteria come on to the land and spread an infection.

Go to: Locations
     or  Related News