Biologists have found that various and previously unknown microscopic animals live in the sand of sea beaches. Often they are killed by tourists who trample the beaches. The research results were published by the scientific journal Communications Biology, the press service of the Moscow State University writes briefly about this. M. V. Lomonosov.
DNA analysis from the beaches of the Mediterranean island of Asinara showed that a variety of microscopic (about 1 mm in size) animals live in the clean sand of such beaches, many of which are still unknown to science. Their existence is threatened by trampling, the press service notes.
The researchers found that there are not only many such invertebrates, but they are extremely diverse: hundreds of specimens and dozens of species can live on a piece of beach a few square centimeters in size. In the course of the work, scientists have identified about 200 species of invertebrates, more than 80 of them turned out to be new species. In addition, biologists have found more than 640 so-called conditional species, some of which may also be unknown to science.
According to one of the authors of the study, a biologist from Moscow State University, Vyacheslav Ivanenko, the work of scientists was in part similar in complexity to the methods used in forensic science.
"Such work is on stream in the study of bacteria, but in the study of invertebrates this method has been applied recently, and there are a number of methodological difficulties. One of the difficulties is that when DNA is extracted in this way, animals are not preserved for study under a microscope. Another limitation of the method is this is a sensitivity that does not always show interspecies differences, "Ivanenko explained.
In addition, the scientists compared the beaches visited by different numbers of people. It turned out that even with a small number of tourists, the number of invertebrates living in the sand is decreasing. Thus, the preservation of individual beaches or their sections completely closed to the public is justified from the point of view of science and is necessary in order to preserve the biodiversity of protected areas, the authors of the study believe.