//archives

ecology

This tag is associated with 51 posts
An Australian Giant Cuttlefish (Sepia apama) crosses a seagrass bed. Shelly Beach, Manly, NSW (Credit: Photo credit: Richard Ling, CC BY-NC-ND)

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!

Fig. 4: Ringed seal pup. Author: Shawn Dahle, NOAA, Polar Ecosystems Program research cruise. Source: Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pusa_hispida_pup.jpg

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!

Figure 1: A venomous cone snail that lives in tropical reef systems. Source: Wikimedia Commons

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!

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!

Menopause only occurs in humans and two species of toothed whale [Flickr].

What killer whales tell us about menopause

Killer whales, or orcas (Orcinus orca), are amazingly intelligent and social animals. What can they tell us about the evolution of menopause?

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.

Figure 2: Picture of French Grunt (Haemulon flavolineatum) originally by Albert Kok. Source: Wikipedia Creative Commons

Grunts and Gnathiids: One Fish’s Daily Migration to Escape Parasites?

Animals move for a number of reasons. The French grunt leaves the coral reefs at night for seagrass. A group of scientists proposes and provides good evidence for why they might do that! Read on to discover whether they’re leaving to avoid being parasitized?

Fig. 3 Photos showing D. perlucidum  growing on seagrass, a navigational marker and substrate. Source: Simpson et al. 2016.

Seagrass Invasion! Tunicates colonizing seagrass beds impact plant and animal community

Seagrass habitats worldwide are in decline due to a number of factors. What happens when an invasive species comes on the scene to add to the stressors affecting seagrasses?

Fig 6: Alepes djedaba, one of the invasive species studied.  (Source: Public Commons)

When Aliens Invade: Disturbed Food Webs in the Mediterranean

Invasive species can wreak havoc on an ecosystem. Learn about the fishy invasion currently underway in the Mediterranean Sea and what impacts these invaders may be having on the region.

Bowhead whales patrol Arctic and subarctic waters. Some populations migrate north and south with the annual formation and loss of sea ice. [Flickr, Day Donaldson].

Young whales build baleen out of ribs

Juvenile bowhead whales put off gaining length and undergo severe bone loss to invest in growing their massive heads and baleen plates.

Fig. 1. Polar Bear (climate change refugee). Source: Wikimedia Commons, Author Arturo de Frias Marques.

If You Must, Adjust? Polar Bears Leaving Sea Ice in the Arctic

Everyone knows that polar bears have become the poster children for species threatened by climate change. And it’s for good reason that they are. Polar bears rely on sea ice for access to prey, finding mates, and creating dens. The persistence of the species depends on the state of sea-ice and more generally a healthy marine ecosystem in the Arctic. Unfortunately, the volume and extent of sea ice have been decreasing by 28% and 14% per decade. Is there a way for polar bears to adapt to the changing sea ice coverage in this sensitive habitat?

Figure 3. Deep sea octopus (Graneledone boreopacifica). Source: Wikimedia Commons, Author: NOAA/Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. Photo also used as featured image.

Parenthood: The Most Rewarding Experience or The Ultimate Sacrifice?

Our human parents make a lot of sacrifices for us! They devote their time and energy, provide for us, invest in us (monetarily, sure, but also emotionally), nurture us, attempt to teach us, make career decisions with us in mind, and lose a lot of sleep worrying about us. However, in the marine world things can get much more extreme? Some animals make the ultimate sacrifice by literally dying to reproduce. Find out more about some of these marine creatures in today’s Oceanbites!

Young alevin of a Pacific species, the chum salmon.

You look like your mom: parental effects in Atlantic salmon

In honour of our Mother’s Day theme week, we’ll look at how the environment experienced by parents during reproduction and their early life history influences their offspring.

Bottletail squid. Credit: www.wildsingapore.com and Ria Tan.

What makes a male squid put in reproductive effort?

Male squid can vary the effort they put into each mating event. Find out what type of female makes the males put in the most energy.

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.

Fooled Ya! How marine animals stay hidden in plain sight

It’s April Fools’ Day! Today’s the day when you try to prank people, convince them your lies are true, and generally make mischief and act sneakily! Animals have to act like it’s April Fools’ Day everyday, and it probably isn’t nearly as much fun since their lives depend on it. Predators sneak up on their prey. Prey hide from those who wish to eat them. It’s a harsh world out there, but luckily animals have a number of ways to stay hidden. Here are my 5 (well, actually 6) favorite examples of camouflage in the marine realm!

Figure 1: Seagrass meadow in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Photographer: Heather Dine. Source: NOAA Photo Library via https://www.flickr.com/photos/51647007@N08/5077876455/

Seagrass Fights Back Against Grazing!

If you were a plant, like seagrass, how would you prevent other creatures from eating you? Do you even try? Learn a bit about plant defenses and find out about a new discovery in seagrasses by reading today’s oceanbites!

Burger

Killer food: the harmful effects of a diatom diet

What if a single bite out of your favorite cheeseburger was toxic to your health? In the ocean, copepods are faced with this issue when they feed on certain types of diatoms. Some diatoms produce toxins as a way to defend themselves from predators. How do these toxins effect hungry copepods?

Cuttlefish

Cuttlefish “freeze-out” their predators

Cephalopods such as cuttlefish are known to use camouflage behavior to avoid being eaten. Sharks are able to find disguised cuttlefish using their electrolocation. Do cuttlefish have a way to counter? This study suggests cuttlefish can “freeze” themselves in order to escape predation.

oceanbites photostream

Subscribe to oceanbites

@oceanbites on Twitter