Not all starfish are cute! The crown-of-thorns starfish has been eating all the coral on the Great Barrier Reef! Researchers set out to build a model in hopes of demonstrating the trophic interactions between this dangerous starfish and its prey, the coral.
Science is not just about new discoveries and novel research questions; it’s often about challenging the past using new tools, techniques, and perspectives. Here, researchers used new modeling techniques to sharpen the focus on how marine communities are structured, attempting to resolve a century-old dispute.
When discussing the value of an ecosystem, tensions run high. Some people evaluate ecosystems with heavy emphasis on non-use values, like aesthetics and spiritual appreciation. Other people value ecosystems based on things like natural resource availability and the potential for direct monetary revenue. It is difficult to assess the relative importance (or value) of these differing goals because the economic benefits of one are easily quantified while the other is more difficult to assess.
Coral reefs are composed of hundreds of different species, who all use different acoustics to communicate, just like we use different languages around the world to communicate. Researchers set out to better understand and record the language of fishes in hopes of building a species-specific soundscape of the coral reef community.
Warming oceans and acidic oceans. Nutrient and pollution overload. Melting ice caps and rising sea levels. Jellyfish blooms. Yes, you can consider blooms of jellyfish as a source of oceanic stress, especially if you’re a seagrass bed!
The poster child for human pollution of the ocean has to be floating plastic bottles and soda rings, right? Once in the ocean, these plastics can aggregate. They create large floating masses, or garbage patches and some species find refuge in our refuse. Recent research has shown that diverse communities utilize these open ocean rafts, finding similarities to traditional ecological theory.
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.