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Biological oceanography

This category contains 35 posts

The Missing Mechanism: How Ocean Fronts Impact Sinking Organic Matter

Phytoplankton are central to the ocean’s carbon cycle, converting carbon dioxide into organic molecules that sink into the sea’s interior. But the ocean is moving and variable. As a result, we don’t have good estimates of how many of these phytoplankton-made molecules exit the upper ocean where phytoplankton reside. Find out how Stukel et al. measured how ocean fronts – a dynamic phenomenon in the water – help transport these organic molecules.

The Entire Ocean in a Drop

Article: Stoeckle MY, Soboleva L, Charlop- Powers Z (2017) Aquatic environmental DNA detects seasonal fish abundance and habitat preference in an urban estuary. PLoS ONE 12(4): e0175186 Effectively managing fish populations requires accurate and timely monitoring data. Scientists and environmental managers need to know when (presence/absence data), where (location data), and how many fish (abundance […]

The Molecular Industrial Complex: What shrimp exoskeleton formation can tell us about life’s building strategy

Have you ever wondered just how our bodies know to repair damaged skin or build muscle after an intense workout? Without even thinking about it, these processes are carried out behind the scenes while we go about our lives. Read further to see how a team of scientists have used the lifecycle of the mighty cocktail shrimp to begin to piece together some of this mystery.

Put your cilia in the air and wave ‘em like you just don’t care

A new study out of Woods Hole sheds some light on how marine phytoplankton enhance their ability to take up nutrients. Using fancy cameras and powerful models, the researchers suggest that short, rapid swimming bursts allow organisms to escape to greener pastures.

Benthic biology on a thermally boring deep-sea ridge

The deep ocean is vast and full of neat ocean dwellers, many of which scientists know little about. One way to investigate them is from images and videos captured during deep-sea exploration efforts using submersibles. A group of scientists did just that to quantify the benthic assemblages at different depths and a variety of substate types on a ridge in the Indian Ocean.

Best of both worlds: stromatolites of the intertidal zone

Did you know that the earliest form of life on Earth can still be found today? Read more to find out how researchers studied ancient formations called stromatolites growing within the intertidal zone of Cape Elizabeth, South Africa, and how salinity and nutrients influence these rare structures.

Marine Protected Areas need more than just a name

It is no secret that the Earth’s oceans are in trouble. Every day there is a new article on rising temperatures, ocean acidification, coral bleaching, and species extinction, to name just a few. Luckily, governments are taking notice and policies are being enacted to curb the loss of this delicate, and essential ecosystem. However, deciding to take action does not always guarantee that the necessary measures will follow. Continue reading to see how one team of researchers have quantified the effectiveness of some of these policies, and what needs to happen to ensure they are moving forward.

‘The conservationist is ready to see you’: triaging marine ecosystems in times of climate change

Climate change affects ecosystems worldwide, but how do conservationists decide which of planet earth’s ecosystems are most in need?

Hunter-Chiller: Multiple feeding strategies for some of the world’s smallest organisms

Because of their ability to conduct photosynthesis, most of our planet’s oxygen comes from microscopic organisms in the ocean called algae. In addition to photosynthesis, some of these algae can also hunt and consume prey to supplement their energy needs. In this study a group of scientists has set out to determine just how their hunting strategy works, and why each strategy has its own set benefits and drawbacks.

Clamate Change: How clams may be able to cope with a warming world

Global temperatures are increasing at a rate never before seen in Earth’s history. Although efforts to mitigate this are still very important, it is also important to study and understand what is going to happen to the plants and animals that live here. Evidence of climate change already surrounds us, and the more we know, the better prepared we will be to cope with our new environment. In this study, a group of researchers have studied how two species of clams react to a warmer environment to understand the coping mechanisms they use for survival.

Studying plankton from an atmospheric satellite

Scientists found a way to repurpose data from an atmospheric satellite to study the tiny creatures at the base of most ocean food webs. The instrument, originally designed to study aerosols, allowed researchers to build the most complete record of polar plankton activity ever assembled.

Paradise Loss: How humans are impacting coastal reef communities

Humans are drawn to beautiful beaches and warm water, and with us come the conveniences of modern day civilization. While life may be flourishing in the shops, restaurants and luxury hotels, this development is taking its toll on the fragile reef community just off shore. Although reefs may appear healthy to the naked eye, researchers have discovered coastal development impacts their biological diversity, and this may be an indication of more serious, long-term damage.

Sharkcano, a melting pot for biology

No, a Sharkcano is not a volcano that erupts sharks. IT IS WAY COOLER THAN THAT! It is a submarine volcano that hosts a diverse macro community in water that is much warmer and more acidic that the surrounding seawater. Read more to find out about this alien-esc ecosystem in the South Pacific Ocean.

A toxic toasty blob: warm water in the Pacific provides a happy home for poisonous algae

A warm blob at the ocean surface, fishery closures, and unhappy marine mammals – what do all these things have in common? The answer is microscopic: a toxic type of algae called Pseudo-nitzschia thrives when temperatures are warm and nutrients are plentiful. It poisons the shellfish that feed marine mammals and support a multi-million dollar fishing industry.

Eat Organic at Your Local Gyre Margin

Paper: Letscher, Robert T., et al. 2016. Nutrient budgets in the subtropical ocean gyres dominated by lateral transport. Nature Geoscience, v.9: 815–819 If you were a marine organism looking for some grub, where could you find something nutritious? Nutrients in the ocean accumulate in the bodies of living things, which tend to sink to deeper waters […]

Microbes: The original organic cleaning agents

Natural and human caused leakage of oil into the environment is commonplace throughout the world. Scientists are learning how microbes (microscopic organisms) can break down this oil and use it for energy. By understanding these processes, we will be able to determine the short and long-term environmental impacts, as well as use these organisms to help us clean up after a major spill.

Positive real estate outlook for Antarctic krill

An Australian research team predict future sea-ice habitats for Antarctic krill larvae, and are surprised to find more suitable ice habitats in the future, despite shrinking sea-ice cover.

The physics of tiny jellyfish hunting

Tiny jellyfish live, swim, and eat in a viscous environment. How they capture their food is something of a mystery. A University of Oregon group took advantage of several fancy imaging techniques to shed some light on the matter.

Tiny but tough: calcification in marine phytoplankton

Coccolithophores stand out from other marine phytoplankton in their ability to form calcified plates. Why is it beneficial for coccolithophores to calcify and how may these plates hold up under future ocean conditions?

Killer whale pods: hunting dynamics

Killer whale pods spend almost all of their time together, with the exception of when they hunt. Why are they not social when they hunt? Could it be to ensure the survival of the newest and weakest pod members? Is it related to food availability? It is related to food preference? It is just a factor of physical abilities? Read more to find out what scientist have learned so far!

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