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Ecology

This category contains 229 posts

The Blob: The movie monster attacking fish

The Pacific marine heatwave of 2013-2016, called the Blob, caused ocean temperatures in Alaska to spike, harming wildlife from whales to salmon. A new study shows that even if the animals could take the heat, they may have been starving. Kristin HuizengaI am a PhD student in Biological Oceanography at the University of Rhode Island […]

Can Coral Reefs Strangled by Algae Recover?

When a coral reef suffers from bad environmental conditions like warmer water, sometimes the coral can recover—but sometimes algae will grow over the ecosystem instead. Scientists in French Polynesia tested what makes a reef either rebound or convert to undersea algae fields after a disturbance. Sierra GarciaI am a master’s student from Monterey, California studying […]

Rainwater floods an ecosystem of productivity

Phytoplankton fuel the productivity of the marine ecosystem. They need nutrients to carry out their cellular functions and, in most estuaries, nutrients can come from riverine outflow. However, how do phytoplankton receive nutrients in regions where freshwater river inflow does not exist? Scientists observed the influence of rainfall on phytoplankton community composition in Sydney Harbor, […]

The Dynamic Duo: Application of Complementary BRUVs and eDNA to Marine Fish Assemblages

Innovations in waterproofing cameras and DNA analysis have led marine scientists to apply these methods in unique ways in recent decades. Through the use of BRUVs and eDNA this article looks at fish assemblages in Jurien Bay Marine Park in Western Australia to compare these methods individually and combined. When BRUVs and eDNA were both […]

The Gulf of Mexico Triangle: Assessing Movements of Large Pelagic Fish Across Multiple National Boundaries

Pelagic predators or difficult to manage due to their vast migrations through through multiple countries jurisdictions and international waters. In order to effectively manage these species multinational agreeements are required. However, collecting movement data for species that travel long distances is difficult to collect. Here, researchers look at the movements between countries of 8 species […]

The Evidence of Things Not Seen: eDNA and Fisheries Stocks

Unlike fields of corn or herds of cattle whose yields are easily counted, wild fish stocks are more difficult to count. The ocean is a huge place, so finding and estimating populations to set future catch limits is really hard! There may be a new way of gathering this information though—one with less impact to […]

Greenland sharks: Caught on tape for conservation

In 2016 researchers discovered that Greenland sharks (Somniosus microcephalus) are the oldest living vertebrates on the planet. What does that mean for the conservation and management of these large, cold-water predators? This week we’ll find out. Grace CasselberryI am currently a Marine Science and Technology Doctoral student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. I use […]

Hawksbills in hot water? Temperature and Precipitation Impacts on Hawksbill Sea Turtle Nests

Climate change is already having effects on sea turtles. All seven species of sea turtle are dependent on temperature for habitat selection and physiology. The impacts of temperature and moisture on hatchling development have real long-term impacts on marine turtle populations. Matthew LarsenI am a second year master’s student at Coastal Carolina University in the […]

What’s next for Air Jaws? Research Priorities for The Great White Shark

Since the beginning of Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, viewers have been mesmerized by the great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias). The great white shark coverage outshines the rest with television specials like the Air Jaws series filling many of the week’s time slots. There are numerous unanswered questions about its ecology, physiology, and relationship with humans. To […]

Climate-driven events leave an imprint on corals in the Great Barrier Reef

Last year, it was reported that half of the Great Barrier Reef had just died after heat stress caused severe coral bleaching in 2016 and 2017 back-to-back. Now, researchers believe that the way to study coral loss going forward is to understand how one climate-driven disturbance relates to those that came before it. Nyla HusainI’m […]

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 […]

Hydrothermal vents spew out tasty morsels for local marine consumers

Hydrothermal vents are not only cool structures where magma meets the sea; they offer a previously unappreciated food source for marine organisms. Read on to find out how Chang et al. 2018 uncovered the role of vents in marine food webs. Katherine BarrettKate is a 3rd year PhD candidate in the Biological Sciences Department at […]

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.) […]

Digging Deep: Burrowing Animals are Just One Element of a Healthy Mudflat

Despite mudflats supporting fisheries, providing homes for birds, and serving as a buffer between land and sea, these ecosystems are still threatened by human development. Researchers looking for ways to protect mudflats found that in order for mudflats to remain healthy, 4 important roles must be filled by the animals living in them. Kristin HuizengaI […]

Saving Sawfish: Adventures in the Everglades

A few months ago, I wrote about sawfish research in Papua New Guinea, but if you live in the U.S. you can find sawfish much closer to home. The smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata) once roamed throughout the Gulf of Mexico and along the East Coast, but now calls South Florida, particularly Everglades National Park, home. […]

I like to move it, move it: Krill boogie down all year

Krill, the tiny organisms that feed the Southern Ocean, have long been thought to be pretty mellow in the winter. As it turns out, it is quite the party down there year around! Eric OrensteinEric is a PhD student at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. His research in the Jaffe Laboratory for Underwater Imaging focuses […]

Beyond cannibalism, can tide pools help explain the universe?

It turns out tide pools are a lot more complex than they seem – and often inhabited by cannibals. Can we glean answers to the universe by peering into them? John Steinbeck seemed to think so. Nyla HusainI’m a 4th year PhD student at the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography. I use models […]

Fixin’ to lose: Trichodesmium reacts to climate change

Nitrogen is vital for all life on the planet. One of the main global sources for nitrogen, the bacteria Trichodesmium, may stop providing nitrogen to the global cycle in an ocean affected by climate change. LeAundra JeffsI am a Master’s Candidate at University of Delaware where I study the evolution of microbes in the sediments […]

Cyanobacteria invasions… from space?

They may not come from space, but they can be seen from up there! Learn how microscopic plants called cyanobacteria accumulate in the Baltic Sea, how they’re measured with satellites, and what it all means. Nyla HusainI’m a 4th year PhD student at the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography. I use models to […]

Little fish, big fish… which one poses the bigger threat?

Article: Biton-Porsmoguer, S., Bǎnaru, D., Boudouresque, C. F., Dekeyser, I., Bouchoucha, M., Marco-Miralles, F., … & Harmelin-Vivien, M. (2018). Mercury in blue shark (Prionace glauca) and shortfin mako (Isurus oxyrinchus) from north-eastern Atlantic: Implication for fishery management. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 127, 131-138. Have you ever heard the term mercury poisoning? It may not be as common as […]

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