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Evolution as "survival of the laziest"?

Published 2018-09-18

Photo: University of Kansas Evolution by natural selection is often described as “survival of the fittest”, but a new study suggests that some organisms may have a different evolutionary strategy for success: laziness. In the journal, Proceedings of the Royal Society B, researchers provide evidence that species with lower energy requirements may be less likely to go extinct. In the study, the researchers analyzed the metabolic rates of 299 species of bivalves and gastropods in the Western Atlantic, both extinct and extant. They found that during a 5-million-year period, high... (more)

Are corals becoming more resilient to stress?

Published 2018-08-09

Photo: Ji Hoon Justin Han In a new study, published in the journal PeerJ, scientists replicate a set of experiments from the 1970s to test whether corals on reefs in the Pacific are acclimatizing or adapting to increased thermal stress. Coral reefs around the globe are experiencing more frequent and severe high temperature events, which can lead to a bleaching response, in which corals lose their symbiotic algae. Bleached corals, which appear white after losing their zooxanthellae, can die if the environmental conditions do not improve. In the 1970’s, a set of experiments was... (more)

Discovery of a Manta Ray Nursery

Published 2018-06-28

Photo: G.P. Schmahl / FGBNMS In a new study published in the journal Marine Biology, researchers describe the discovery of a juvenile manta ray nursery area. This area was found off the coast of Texas at NOAA’s Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary and is the first nursery habitat for manta rays to be described. Check out the video to learn more! Journal Reference: Joshua D. Stewart, Marissa Nuttall, Emma L. Hickerson, Michelle A. Johnston. Important juvenile manta ray habitat at Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico. Marine... (more)

Stressed fish and bleached anemones

Published 2018-06-01

Photo: NYTimes Hard corals are not the only organisms that bleach in warming ocean conditions. Anemones also host similar photosynthetic algae which convert sunlight into energy, but the relationship between the anemone and the algae can be disrupted during environmental disturbances. When anemones on a coral reef bleach, they may either recover or die if the environmental stress persists. Large anemones are best known for their relationship with clown fish, which use the anemone as a home and a safe place for their eggs. Although the clown fish don’t feed on the anemones, clown fish... (more)

Evolution of the Largest Animal on Earth

Published 2018-04-17

A new study published in the journal Science Advances, reveals new information on the evolutionary history of the largest animal on earth, the blue whale. Researchers at the German Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Center, Geothe University, and the University of Lund in Sweden analyzed the genomes of three whale species: the blue whale, humpback whale, and gray whale. Blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus) are currently listed as endangered on the ICUN Red List and populations are slowly increasing after heavy whaling in the 1900's. The whales can live to approximately 80-90... (more)

How do people view science across the globe?

Published 2018-03-14

Photo: 3M State of Science Index Survey Understanding how people think of and view science is a complicated process. Recently, the company 3M designed a survey (State of Science Index Survey) to investigate how people across the world view the image, impact, and expectations of science now and into the future. The survey was conducted in 14 countries, both in developed and emerging nations, including Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Singapore, South Africa, the UK, and the US. Over 14,000 adults (age 18+) were surveyed (about 1,000 per nation). Questions were asked of subjects over... (more)

Hatchery salmon are not all the same!

Published 2018-02-08

Photo: Oregon State University Salmon are an important member of the ecosystem, economy, and culture in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. However, over the past several decades, wild populations of salmon in the region have decreased significantly, with many stocks listed as threatened or endangered under the US Endangered Species Act. In the 19th century, hatcheries for salmon were developed and now serve a role in providing salmon and steelhead stock for fisheries and contributing to conservation efforts. Although hatcheries show the potential to have a positive impact,... (more)

Local stressors in the Caribbean

Published 2018-01-09

Photo: NOAA Long-term monitoring is an important component of sustainable ecosystem management, allowing scientists and researchers to detect changes in the health of vulnerable environments. In the Caribbean, the Caribbean Coastal Marine Productivity Program (CARICOMP) has collected long-term monitoring data on coastal habitats for years. A new study released 25 years of this data set to describe local and global stressors on reefs in this area. From this very large data set, researchers analyzed trends in water temperature, salinity, and visibility at 29 sites across the Caribbean... (more)

Efforts to connect science and restoration

Published 2017-11-28

In a recent publication in the journal Conservation Letters, researchers acknowledge the gap between scientific research and conservation practice and discuss ways to close this gap. This gap exists for many reasons. First, conservation efforts are often at much larger scales than scientific studies can reasonably take place and there is limited funding to involve scientific researchers in restoration projects. In addition, funding and personal limits may hinder the ability to conduct long-term monitoring of these restoration projects. Grants available for restoration and conservation often... (more)

Healthy Reefs Make More Baby Corals

Published 2017-10-24

Photo: Kristen Marhaver A new study found that healthy reef coral populations are an important source of the next generation of corals. The study, published in Conservation Letters reports that healthy coral populations produced more offspring per square meter than nearby degraded reef sites. The authors of this study measured live coral cover as a metric of the health on 6 reef sites on the island of Curacao in the Caribbean. Three of the sites were located in an undeveloped area of the island while the other three were in an urban area with higher human impact. The researchers then... (more)