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Junk DNA may not be "junk" after all!

Published 2015-09-01

As techniques in genetics and molecular ecology evolve, so does the scientific understanding of the ancestry of genes and genomes. The genetic code written in DNA contains genes, sections of DNA read by the cell that are translated into functional proteins. However, only a small portion of the genome codes for these genes and rest has been referred to as “junk DNA”. Now, researchers at UC Davis, University of Munster in Germany, and UA Tucson are finding that this non-coding section of the genetic code may not be “junk” after all. Genes, like animals and plants, have a lineage and... (more)

Ocean Cycles Slow Pace of Warming

Published 2015-08-25

Ocean Cycles Slow Pace of Warming Earth’s oceans and atmosphere are known to undergo cyclical changes over short and long time scales. These cycles are intricately related to climate and weather patterns and have recently been connected to climate change warming patterns. For years, scientists have debated on the drivers behind the slowed rates of ocean temperature increase at the end of the 20th century. Now, new data suggests that these cyclical events in the ocean could explain the phenomena, suggesting that heat sinks in the Atlantic and Southern oceans are slowing the pace of... (more)

Coral reefs reliance: who should pay?

Published 2015-08-18

Articles often mention that many of the poorest people in the world depend on coral reef ecosystems for food, livelihoods and coastline protection and are therefore extremely vulnerable to climate change; until very recently however, quantitative evidence of this effect was scare. A recent study published in the journal Global Change Biology explored the vulnerability of different nations around the world to the effects of climate change on coral reef ecosystems. The findings themselves are not particularly surprising: poor countries that produce few greenhouse gas emissions will face the... (more)

CSI: Marine biology style

Published 2015-08-04

Over a year ago Malaysia Airlines airplane MH370 disappeared sparking months long searches across the Indian Ocean for the passengers and jetliner. This disappearance, which seemed straight out of the TV series “Lost”, made headlines in the news for weeks on end, but eventually the story died down and people started to give up hope of finding any remnants of a plane. Then on July 29th, 2015 pieces of wreckage started washing ashore on the tiny island of Reunion off the coast of Africa. News stories are currently saying that the pieces are very likely from the missing airplane; however,... (more)

Humpbacks: A Conservation Success Story

Published 2015-07-28

The oceans of Australia are home a very biodiverse marine environment that is, unfortunately, subject to negative impacts by coastal human activity. As a result, Australia has one of the highest rates in the world of animal species that face extinction. Luckily, there are a few species, including the humpback whale that are rebounding and beginning to thrive once again in these waters. A new study published by Dr. Michelle Bejder and colleagues proposes that, due to their rebound following years of protection efforts, east and west coast humpbacks should have their conservation status... (more)

Cuban coral reefs: A new frontier for the US

Published 2015-07-21

As the United States and Cuba re-established diplomatic relations this week for the first time since 1961, Cuba has been in the spotlight for a number of reasons, among them, its near pristine marine preserves and expectations of what the new relations will bring to the future of Cuban coral reefs. Until very recently, Cuba has been somewhat of a black box for most Americans, as news reaching the U.S. of what goes on inside Cuba is sparse. Several recent articles however, including a feature article in the Science section of the New York Times, has focused on Cuba's thriving marine ecosystems... (more)

Acidification impacting shellfish hatcheries

Published 2015-07-14

Ocean acidification, caused by the increased absorption of CO2 into the ocean from increased CO2 emission into the atmosphere, has been shown to impact many biological systems. Corals, shellfish, and other calcifying organisms are now growing in waters that are more corrosive to calcium carbonate minerals, which forms the building blocks that these organisms use to build skeletons and shells. Recently, NOAA scientists described the effects of acidification on shellfish in Alaska, finding that fisheries for clams, oysters, and scallops may face series difficulties by the year 2040. A team... (more)

Shark conservation wins

Published 2015-07-07

It seems only fitting on Shark Week to discuss sharks on our seaHarmony blog, so this week we're writing about some conservation wins for these charismatic megafauna. Over the last year, there has been an expansion of shark conservation laws across the globe which will help protect a myriad of shark species. Here's some of the landmark changes in shark protection. 1: The Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species is now regulating global trade of commercially exploited sharks. 2: The largest shark sanctuary in the world was created in Micronesia covering nearly 3 million square... (more)

Ocean Acidification's Economic Impact

Published 2015-06-30

In recent years, scientists, economists, and managers have tried to assign a dollar amount for the value of resources for human populations from the ocean and marine life. In an era of climate change, there is even more need to understand the financial and economic impacts of marine habitat degradation from large-scale impacts like increasing temperatures and acidification. This month, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity released a report addressing this topic. The report states that by the end of the century, the loss of ecosystem protection from marine structures alone, like coral... (more)

Evolution of a water flea in a warming planet

Published 2015-06-24

Almost every experiment designed to test how animals will respond to warming temperatures leads us to believe organisms will not fare well in the future – resulting in extinctions, extirpation or forced adaptations. There is much debate as to whether animals can evolve as rapidly as the Earth is warming and until recently, very few studies have directly tested this hypothesis. In April 2015, a group of scientists from the U.K. published an innovative study in Nature Climate Change directly testing the genetic capacity of the water flea (Daphnia magna) to adapt to warming over ecologically... (more)