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Ecology

This category contains 218 posts

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 2nd year PhD student 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 […]

Biofilms are a prominent first step in the colonization of wood-falls

A profound yet never-before-appreciated first step in the colonization of sulfur oxidizing bacteria on the surface of wood-debris in the deep-sea is attributed to sugars and other labile components of wood. Anne M. HartwellHello, welcome to Oceanbites! My name is Annie, I’m a marine research scientist who has been lucky to have had many roles […]

Tracking predators in seagrass beds

Scientists have long recognized that predators are more abundant at lower compared to higher latitudes. Read more to find out how a group of marine ecologists investigated the importance of predator-prey interactions in seagrass beds. Katherine BarrettKate is a 2nd year PhD student in the Biological Sciences Department at the University of Notre Dame, and […]

Snowmageddon: A lighthearted start to Marine Snow theme week

While the term “marine snow” may conjure images of an aquatic winter wonderland, some aspects of this phenomenon may not inspire a Bing Crosby song. Marine snow is responsible for transporting many of the nutrients found in the surface, sunlit waters of the ocean to depths where it becomes a significant food and nutrient source […]

The backbone of an ecosystem: bone-eating zombie worms control biodiversity at deep-sea whale falls

Zombies are real – but they are nothing like the ones from The Walking Dead. No, these zombies are worms that live in the ocean. And instead of brains, they eat and break down bones. In fact, these zombie worms are quite important to food webs. Click here to find out more about zombie worms […]

Solstice Strategies for Survival: Yule be amazed!

Winter blues got ya down? For some organisms on our planet, the shortened days may influence their very survival. On this, the shortest day of the year for the Northern Hemisphere, read on to find out how one type of tiny marine algae cope with the low-light conditions, and may even thrive compared to their […]

Invasive seagrass changes fish community in the US Virgin Islands

Seagrass meadows provide food and habitat for a variety of fish species. Juvenile fish are particularly dependent on the meadows, for the shelter they provide from predators. In the Caribbean, several native seagrasses might be found in the same shallow estuary or coastline, forming a patchwork of meadows that support a variety of different fish […]

Local disturbance and global warming unite to make seagrasses taste better to predators

Seagrasses form some of the most important habitats in the marine world. Under threat from global climate change as well as local disturbances, they’re also the subject of wide-spread investigation. Field and laboratory studies have shown that nutrient pollution, temperature changes, acidification, and other disturbances will negatively affect seagrass health, at the individual and community […]

Aliens in the kelp forests – community ecology and Miso soup

In the plant world, competition between species is almost always over space. Space dictates how much sunlight, nutrients, and potential mates you have access to. In community ecology, it’s thought that ecosystems only have so much space to offer different species, with some ecosystems containing more space than others. Most systems are also thought to be saturated so that, […]

The elephant in the oxygen minimum zone

When people think of the animals that inhabit the deep sea, they think of the fascinating, alien-like creatures like the anglerfish or the colossal squid. But, there are other animals that are able to inhabit parts of the deep ocean for a short amount of time, like the elephant seal. Why do they go down […]

Metal fingerprints enhance recycling

The bioaccumulation of bioactive metals in top predators plays a key role in the recycling of nutrients in HNLC zones of the Southern Ocean. Furthermore, the concentration of bioactive metals can be used as a ‘fingerprint’ to identify the appropriate trophic level of a species. Anne M. HartwellHello, welcome to Oceanbites! My name is Annie, […]

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 […]

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