This tag is associated with 14 posts
Cover Photo (source: freakingnews.com)

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.

Red Crown-of-Thorns Starfish eating coral. Author Matt Kieffer, Flickr. No modifications made. https://www.flickr.com/photos/mattkieffer/3016449061 Link to license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode

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!

Soft coral dominated reef. Author: Matt Kieffer. Source: Flickr (https://www.flickr.com/photos/mattkieffer/15439205306)

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!

One of the suspects, the member of the genus Pseudo-nitzschia, produce the neurotoxin domoic acid [Wikimedia Commons]

Do algal blooms kill whales?

Since 2005, southern right whale calves have been found dead in historic numbers off the Patagonian coast in Argentina. Scientists investigate whether harmful algal blooms may be to blame.


Aliens attack: Predicting the spread of marine invasive species

Species invasions have become serious issues in the marine environment, mostly as a result of increased ship traffic. Once a new species invades an area, it is next to impossible to draw it out. What if there was a way to predict the arrival of alien species to new locations in the ocean? Would this predictive power help minimize future invasions?

fig 1

The importance of sea urchins

A look into Valeska’s graduate research. Why coral reefs depend on the long spined black sea urchin for survival.


Tiny plankton make big clouds brighter

Scientists use ocean color from satellites to show that tiny ocean plankton may be responsible for making clouds brighter around Antarctica.


Toxic meal: Chemical cues from copepods increase red-tide toxicity

Yes, you can purchase a fuzzy red tide-forming algal cell. Aside from being much smaller and lacking any type of eye, these organisms can produce massive, toxin-rich blooms in the ocean. Nasty toxins can be harmful to other organisms in the water and even reach humans via the consumption of shellfish and fish. Through the release of chemical cues, copepods have been shown to promote further toxicity in bloom-forming algae.


A new thermally tolerant species of algae is found!

Rising ocean temperatures threaten coral reefs, but a new thermal tolerant algae could help.

cover photo

Is a coral’s color all for show?

Two of the exact same corals, sitting right next to each other, often appear to be different based on their colors. Why is this? Scientists have shown that the answer involves intriguing genetics. The more genes a coral activates, the greater their strength of color.

Figure 1. Diversity of colors and patterns in biofluorescent marine fishes (Sparks et al., 2014).

One fish, two fish, red fish… glow fish?

Biofluorescence of coral is well studied, but in this paper, Sparks et al. aimed to investigate the little known details regarding the impact of biofluorescence on the other creatures that thrive in coral reef habitats, specifically the 8,000+ species of fishes. What they found was shocking. Not only is biofluorescence widespread throughout the tree of life for all fishes, it is particularly common and both genetically and environmentally variable in marine lineages. This widespread and previously unrecognized phenomenon gives new insight into the evolution of marine fishes and changes how we think light/visual systems work in the marine environment.

Fig 3: The sea bream ready for consumption.

You Are What Your Fish Eats: how an invasive seaweed is contributing to the decline in nutritional value of commercial fish

Invasive species are known to be harmful to native species, biodiversity, and ecosystem function. But recent research has shown that certain invasive species may be affecting the nutritional quality of your food!

The amphipod Paradexamine fissicauda

Marine herbivores “steal” and use chemical defenses from algal hosts

A recent study has shown that a species of amphipod is disregarding the “WARNING: DO NOT INGEST” label on chemically defended seaweed. As it turns out, these tiny herbivores are able to sequester (seize and store), via ingestion, some of the toxins found within the tissues of macroalgae. These amphipods then use the sequestered toxins for their own defense against predation by fish. What was long thought to be a mutualism between amphipods and algae has now shifted, giving a greater advantage to the herbivore.

Neosiphonia harveyi

Growing Like a Seaweed: How ocean acidification is aiding the growth and expansion of macroalgae.

While calcifying organisms like corals and bivalves are projected to struggle under future levels of carbon dioxide (CO2), non-calcifying seaweeds that use CO2 for photosynthesis are going to exhibit normal, or increased, growth and productivity. Here, researchers show that increases in CO2 result in faster growth rates and increased photosynthetic activity in the invasive red alga, Neosiphonia harveyi. Researchers also tested temperature as an environmental factor and found a greater increase in growth and productivity in algae treated with colder water relative to warmer water. This finding is significant as low temperatures typically limit the growth of an individual alga and limit the range of algal species. Could CO2 increase the geographic range and success of seaweed invasions?

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