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Paying attention to oceans in climate change

Published 2015-11-17

Photo: NOAA PIFSC Later this month, world leaders will gather in Paris to discuss and negotiate international climate change mitigation strategies. Many ocean scientists are arguing that oceans deserve more attention in these conversations. A review paper published in Science in November by University of Washington professor of marine and environmental affairs, Edward Allison, looked at the relationship between scientific understanding of the changes in the world’s oceans and how people are responding to those changes. The responses of communities to change include denial, planned... (more)

The Cod Comeback

Published 2015-10-27

Although it is important to understand the problems facing marine ecosystems, it is just as important to study conservation success stories and take lessons from these events to shape future work. Often referred to as the “icon” of overfishing and fisheries mismanagement, the northern Atlantic cod is now viewed instead as a success story in conservation. According to new research from Rose and Rowe (2015), the populations of northern Atlantic cod are making a comeback and recovering from stock decline. Due to overfishing, the northern Atlantic cod populations plummeted in the 1990’s and... (more)

Collapsing food chains under climate change

Published 2015-10-13

Its been said many times before: rising temperatures and ocean acidification are detrimental to marine habitats across the globe and impact each species in diverse ways. Many studies have focused on the impacts of climate change on a certain type of organism or habitat, but fewer have looked at how these processes impact ecosystems as a whole. In a recently published study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), researchers Nagelkerken and Connell report the findings of a meta-analysis that analyzes data from 632 past studies that report on climate change influence in... (more)

First Sighting of a Glowing Sea Turtle

Published 2015-09-29

Biofluorescence, the ability of an organism to reflect blue light and re-emit is as a different color, has been documented in many marine animals including fish, coral, and crustaceans. Until July of 2015, it had never been recorded in a marine reptile. Marine biologist David Gruber of City University of New York and a team of colleagues were in the Solomon Islands to film biofluorescence on a coral reef. While on a night dive, they captured footage of a hawksbill turtle glowing with red, green, and yellow fluorescence. The hawksbill turtle is currently an endangered species, making this... (more)

Social Media as a Conservation Tool

Published 2015-09-15

In today’s technological society, scientists are beginning to use social media to communicate to the public about their research and form collaborations. Now, scientists may be able to use social media in a new way to collect data and inform conservation management practices. Social media sources, like Facebook and Twitter, are huge repositories for information about human behavior and document the interactions that people have with the environment. Whether it’s a family visiting a national park, friends scuba diving on a reef, or groups backpacking in the mountains, many of our... (more)

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)