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Behavior

This category contains 82 posts

Changing Oceans May Confuse Critically Endangered European Eels

As humanity’s carbon emissions continue to heat and acidify the world’s oceans, many marine species and ecosystems face daunting new challenges for survival. Sierra GarciaSierra is a master’s student in Stanford University’s Earth Systems department studying science and environmental communication. Her bachelors degree was also in Earth Systems, with an emphasis on oceans and climate, […]

Octopuses can learn from an iPad too

As many universities are moving this semester’s coursework online, some may be wondering if learning from a screen is really that efficient. It turns out that it works pretty well – at least for octopuses. Anastasia YandulskayaI am a PhD candidate at Northeastern University in Boston. I study regeneration of the nervous system in water […]

A round of underwater applause: Scientists record gray seals clapping underwater

How do you get someone else’s attention underwater? It turns out some seals may clap their flippers together the same way humans clap their hands. Marine animals make incredible sounds underwater, from the songs of humpback whales to the pops of snapping shrimp and the grunts of fish, and now we may hear the sounds […]

Deadly neurotoxin may help de-stress pufferfish

The flesh of many pufferfish is laced with a deadly neurotoxin called tetrodotoxin. This toxin successfully wards off pufferfish predators, but tetrodotoxin may also serve a more innocuous purpose: relieving stress. Do not try this at home. Ashley MarranzinoI received my Master’s degree from the University of Rhode Island where I studied the sensory biology […]

Mazes aren’t just for mice: European shore crabs exhibit spatial learning

Mazes aren’t just for mice, although a scientific literature search for maze learning might lead you to think so. In a recent study, scientists investigate crab performance in a complex maze and propose that European shore crabs exhibit spatial learning and memory, potentially tied to their need to find food along the complicated, three-dimensional seafloor. […]

The story behind the story: Understanding how mother whales communicate and the challenges of studying an endangered species

How do North Atlantic right whale moms talk to their calves? A recent paper describes new quiet calls which have only been recorded from mother/calf pairs. But there’s more to the story than just what makes it into the journal article, namely the logistical as well as emotional challenges of studying an endangered species. Julia […]

Humpback Whales Harmonize with Changing Environments

A recent study explores how the occurrence of humpback whale song is associated with shifts in their environment, including the abundance of food, concentration of neurotoxic algal blooms, and even sea levels. Rishya NarayananRishya is a multimedia science communicator with an MS in Media Advocacy from Northeastern University, specializing in Environmental Science Communications and Policy. […]

Robofish To The Rescue!

When mosquitofish were introduced all over the world to control mosquito populations nobody thought they would have such a negative impact on the native ecosystem. Now, in an attempt to control their populations researches are using robotic predators. Brandy BiggarI am a 2nd year Master’s student at the Memorial University of Newfoundland. I am researching […]

Same-Sex Squid Sex

Same-sex sexual behavior exists across a wide range of animals, but the behavior has long puzzled scientists because of the apparent paradox of mating behavior that does not produce offspring. What is the adaptive value of same-sex mating and what are the different reasons it has evolved in so many species? A recent paper describes […]

Ecology of Fear: Current Implications of Orca Presence on Narwhal Behavior and Future Trends

The ecology of fear is a hypothesis that predators drive habitat use and behavior in prey species. In the Arctic, the orca drives behavioral changes in a variety of species including narwhals. Analyzing a narwhal population in a Fjord in Greenland researchers were able to look at how fear drives narwhal behavior. Article Breed, Greg […]

The Biological Big Bang: Testing the hypothesis that sperm whales use auditory bursts to stun prey and other proposed feeding strategies.

Article Fais, A., Johnson, M., Wilson, M., Soto, N. A., & Madsen, P. T. (2016). Sperm whale predator-prey interactions involve chasing and buzzing, but no acoustic stunning. Scientific reports, 6, 28562. Background Sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) are big. To put it in perspective, an adult or bull sperm whale is longer on average (52 ft.) […]

Scaredy Fish: How Timid Fish Could Skew Research

Divers have long suspected that some fish are more afraid of people than others. A recent study has shown that certain groups of fish will actually hide for hours after a diver has passed through a reef. This has important implications for the future of coral reef surveys and the way we study species diversity. […]

Octopus Mama Drama: Research Expedition Bonus Science

Dorado Outcrop is a small underwater mountain that first received attention from a few scientists because the seafloor that it sits upon is colder than what is expected. It ended up in the media spot-light because of the hundreds of octopuses that call it home. Anne M. HartwellHello, welcome to Oceanbites! My name is Annie, […]

Studying Leopard Seals in Antarctica

Check out this article by guest author Sarah Kienle about her recent research expedition to Antarctica to study leopard seals! Anna RobuckI am a third year PhD student at the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography in the Lohmann Lab. My current research interests include environmental chemistry, water quality, as well as coastal […]

Bite or Flight: How Seaweed Can Shape Feeding Behavior in Fish

What is a forest without trees or a coral reef without coral? Neither a forest nor a coral reef. Entire ecosystems are made possible by the living flora that define them; they provide shelter and hunting grounds for the animals which live in them. But what happens when the building blocks of these ecosystems are […]

The Efficiency of Nautili

Imagine if you could function just as well at the top of Mt. Everest (where the air is super thin) as you do at sea level; you’d probably be considered pretty special. Well, nautiluses can do that, and these researchers wanted to know why. Anne M. HartwellHello, welcome to Oceanbites! My name is Annie, I’m […]

Not Just Hanging Out: The Importance of Humpback Whale Mother Calf-Area Use in Hawaii

Continue to celebrate Mother’s Day before May ends by exploring the amazing bond between humpback whale mothers and their calves. Understanding mother-calf pod area utilization might just be the next step in protecting and conserving these giant marine mammals to ensure their continued path to recovery. Rishya NarayananRishya is a multimedia science communicator with an […]

Power by the numbers: tiny shrimp generate turbulence in the ocean

Imagine hundreds of thousands of tiny shrimp swimming in the ocean. Believe it or not, the combined swimming action of these ocean dwellers can generate large-scale mixing of the ocean water column. Read on to learn more about these incredible ocean mixers. Katherine BarrettKate is a 4th year PhD candidate in the Biological Sciences Department […]

Killing Jaws: Tackling the Idea of the Bloodthirsty Predator

Even though shark attacks are rare, fear of sharks has led people to support laws that kill sharks en masse. A new study shows that at the root of our fear of sharks is the belief that they intend to hurt us. By thinking about how we talk about shark intentionality in educational settings and […]

3 Courtship Tips From the Ocean: Valentine’s Day Edition

Long before we celebrated V-Day, animals in the ocean have evolved courtship strategies to help them score mates.  Might there be something we can learn from them?  Read more to find out! Megan ChenI graduated with a Masters of Coastal & Marine Management from the University of Akureyri in Iceland, and am currently working at […]

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