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Ecology

This category contains 199 posts

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.

A long history of tool use in marine mammals? You otter believe it!

The use of tools by animals has been documented in a wide range of species, from birds to invertebrates, encompassing land animals and marine animals. Animals use tools to help shelter themselves as well as find their next meal. By investigating animals on a genetic level it’s possible to determine whether tool use is specific to a population and how long ago this ability evolved. Recently, scientists investigated the genetics of a fan favorite, the sea otter, to try and pinpoint how long they’ve been using tools and what they’ve been using them for. Read on to find out more!

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.

Vacancy at your local kelp forest

A diverse community of seaweeds, snails, sponges, crustaceans, and more, find refuge and food within the dynamic kelp ecosystem.

Seagrasses reduce the risk of disease outbreaks

Seagrasses are one of humans’ greatest sidekicks. They are nursery areas for many species including commercially important ones, they protect coastal communities from extreme weather, they absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen via photosynthesis and much more. Now, research shows that seagrasses can also reduce rates of disease in humans, fishes and invertebrates such as corals. Read more to find out how!

Throwing Babies out with the Sea Ice: Ringed Seals Response to Ice Decline

As the Earth warms, sea ice declines. What happens to those animals who rely on the ice? Today’s oceanbites looks at one animal, the ringed seal, and how it may be affected by climate change!

‘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?

Life Finds a Way: Eelgrass Beds Respond in Surprising Ways to Extreme Warming Events

Article: Reynolds LK, DuBois K, Abbott JM, Williams SL, Stachowicz JJ (2016) Response of a Habitat-Forming Marine Plant to a Simulated Warming Event Is Delayed, Genotype Specific, and Varies with Phenology. PLoS ONE 11(6): e0154532. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0154532 Climate change is poised to dramatically alter the make-up and functioning of Earths’ ecosystems, including those in the oceans. […]

Ocean acidification makes predators dumb

Chemistry is important for a lot of things, but can it change the behavior of animals? Read on to find out how changes in water chemistry alter the behavior of a venomous cone snail!

Small MPAs: the new all-you-can-eat buffets?

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are a popular conservation tool and are in many situations very effective. Unfortunately, as with many plans, there may be some unintended consequences, as seen in the case of small MPAs in Fiji, where they appear to have attracted corallivorous crown-of-thorns sea stars (Acanthaster spp.). Find out more in today’s oceanbites!

Like a champion Casanova in the sky

After migrating thousands of miles from their southern wintering grounds, males of a certain species of shorebird log thousands more miles scouring the summer territories for fertile females. It’s pretty nuts.

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.

Hard Coral or Macroalgae? Coral Reefs May Have Another Option

Most of the time coral reef communities are discussed, it seems the focus is whether they’re dominated by hard coral or algae. It turns out there may be other possible outcomes for reefs in the future. Find out more in today’s oceanbites!

The Kelp in the Coal Mine: can kelps act as an indicator for climate change?

Many scientific studies have shown that kelp species are sensitive and vulnerable to climate change. Some scientists think of them as sentinel species, or early warning indicators of climate change. Recently, a large mass of warm water, affectionately known as “The Blob,” covered the northeast Pacific, resulting in a long-term elevation of ocean temperature. With existing ecological records of kelp forests in California, this provided an opportunity for researchers to test whether these giant kelps are indeed a sentinel species and can warn us about the looming effects of climate change.

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.

All Food Does NOT Come from the Sun

Excerpt: We’re taught at a young age that all food comes from the sun via photosynthesis. But, does it really? Read on to find out about a major fishery that is underpinned by chemosynthetic primary production!

Ain’t no killing the killifish (for now): on the virtues of genetic diversity

Atlantic killifish are spared extinction in the face of pollution thanks to their remarkable genetic diversity.

Mangrove Takeover Impacting Salt Marshes

Mangroves are encroaching on salt marsh habitats worldwide, but what does this change in plant community mean for the plants, ecosystem processes, and other inhabitants of these areas? Find out a bit of the answer to that question in today’s oceanbites!

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.

Frozen Food: how ice algae support Arctic ecosystems

It may seem like a harsh place to grow, but algae inhabit the under side of Arctic ice. As it turns out, these frozen, sea “veggies” provide an important source of food for Artic ecosystems.

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