//archives

Archive for September, 2015

Colorful adaptations: the use of fluorescence as a lure

When viewed under the right filter, the world can look like one big black light party. A large variety of organisms – everything from plants to penguins – are fluorescent. But what is the purpose of glowing when exposed to certain lights? Researchers tested one hypothesis: these fluorescent organisms may be luring in unsuspecting prey.

Wake-up Call: Global Oceans in Big Trouble!

Our global oceans are in a state of crisis. A new report from the WWF paints a bleak picture: human interference has pushed the oceans to the brink of collapse. The health of marine organisms and the habitats they live in have become severely threatened by compounding factors such as pollution, overfishing and increased CO2 input. This situation is urgent and requires global awareness and swift action. The ocean is changing at a rapid pace before our eyes and we can no longer waste time.

Microbes foil attempts to increase deep ocean carbon sequestration

Most carbon emitted to the atmosphere ends up in the ocean, much of it in organic molecules. While most is quickly respired back to CO2, a fraction is transformed by microbes to apparently stable compounds that persist in the ocean for centuries. Could we manipulate the microbial community to hold even more? A new study suggests this is unlikely because the deep ocean is already holding as much organic carbon as it can handle.

Sea Turtles are Social Too

Ever wonder how sea turtles spend most of their time beneath the waves? Or how they interact with other sea turtles? Researchers put cameras on turtles and see what they see and do to find out! Check out what they found!

Eating Snow: How detritus gets broken down

Marine snow is a critical part of the ocean ecosystem. Much of this carbon rich matter ends up in the deep ocean or on the sea floor. But what about the rest of it? Read on to find out!

Activity at one end of a migration affects fitness at the other

Effectively managing migratory species requires an understanding of what impacts them along their entire migratory route. This paper evaluates how sea turtles reproducing in Greece are affected by their choice of foraging grounds, which can be some distance from their nesting beaches.

Lobsters may dive deeper as climate changes

The American lobster is an iconic and economically significant species found all along the New England coast. Due to temperature sensitivity during the vulnerable larval stage, lobsters will likely be shifting their habitat north in the face of ocean warming caused by global climate change. This study shows that lobsters are also shifting into deeper (and therefore cooler) water, making them even more difficult and dangerous to catch.

The Down, Up, and Down Again of Chesapeake Bay

The Chesapeake Bay region is a densely populated area, and also experiences more rapid sea level rise than anywhere else along the North American Atlantic Coast. Why? Scientists look to the lithosphere for answers, finding that the subsidence of an ancient lithospheric bulge may be partially to blame, and will continue for millennia.

Sound waves: dolphins in a noisy ocean

As human influence in Earth’s oceans increases, so does the background noise. How might dolphins cope with changes in environmental noise levels, particularly in areas where it has seen a substantial, recent increase? Do chattier dolphins have to invest more energy into their aural physiological systems?

Ice ice diatom: how microscopic algae govern ice formation in the clouds

Scientists think that particles exuded by single-cell plankton ejected into the atmosphere by sea-spray affect ice formation in clouds, and thereby the lifetime of the clouds and their ability to deflect sunlight.

How a whole reef community’s response to OA is impacted by the individual responses of different players

Researchers from California used a unique ex situ experiment to monitor two near identical reef communities in different concentrations of dissolved carbon dioxide to observe the unique responses of community members and their roles in the whole community response.

Decalcifying Calcidiscus: An effect of ocean acidification on plankton

The vastness of the ocean can be deceptive–you’d think that only big things would have an impact on something the size of an ocean. That’s not always the case, though. Sometimes the smallest organisms can influence huge, global processes. But one such small organism is faced with harsher conditions these days and isn’t faring too well. Read more to find out!

Overfishing and climate variability interactions spell trouble for fast growing species

Rather intuitively, terrestrial ecosystems show that large, slow growing species are less adaptable in the face of environmental perturbations than their smaller, faster growing counterparts. However, in marine systems, harvest of all types of species, both fast and slow growing, switches the risk of collapse. Recent modelling work shows that in the face of overfishing and climate variability, small, fast growing fishery species are actually at greater risk of collapse than slow growing species.

Big Fishing on (Important) Little Fish

Forage fish may be little as individuals, but their big schools have a big impact on marine ecosystems. They serve as an essential link in marine food webs, utilized by all types of predators like sharks, seals, birds, whales, and other large fish. Humans also harvest incredible quantities of these fish each year, potentially putting not just forage fish populations at risk, but the many other species that feed on them as well.

The barrels of the sea; giant barrel sponges that is

Giant barrel sponges are understudied compared to many other marine organisms, but that doesn’t make them any less important. Climate change has taken its toll on the Florida Keys coral reefs, but the giant barrel sponge has proven to be a hearty animal, growing in size and population.

Retreat! Barrier Beaches Meet Their Demise Despite Modest Sea Level Rise

Future sea level rise poses many challenges for communities on barrier islands. However, sea level rise alone may not be the only factor that determines the fate of barrier islands in a future of rising seas.

Counterfeit fish: the extent of seafood mislabeling in the United States

Media coverage of a seafood mislabeling study in the U.S. has popularized the 2013 finding that one-third of U.S. seafood is mislabeled. What is the mislabeling situation now? Is it still as bad as we think, even worse, or better? Read more to find out!

Bait and Switch: are Maryland crabs the ingredient in your Maryland crab cake?

The non-profit organization Oceana went undercover to analyze the DNA in 90 crab cakes sold throughout Maryland and D.C. Their results suggest that 38% of these “locally caught” crab cakes were mislabeled, containing crab species other than the blue crab.

The Sting of Sex: odd mating adaptations of box jellyfish

It might be hard for a box jellyfish to buy into the old adage “sex sells,” especially when their gonads are laced with stinging cells. This is just one bizarre adaptation in these organisms, read on to find out more!

Tiny lobsters, big problems.

Larval lobsters face potentially dangerous situations, find out how they fare against a couple important environmental stressors (salinity and pH changes).

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