Safety in Numbers? Not So for Corals
"The last 10 thousand years have been especially beneficial for corals. Acropora species, such as table coral, elkhorn coral and staghorn coral, were favored in competition due to their rapid growth. This advantageous rapid growth may have been attained in part by neglecting investment in few defenses against predation, hurricanes, or warm seawater. Acropora species have porous skeletons, extra thin tissue, and low concentrations of carbon and nitrogen in their tissues. The abundant corals have taken an easy road to living a rich and dominating life during the present interglacial period, but the payback comes when the climate becomes less hospitable.”
University of Hawaii (2013, November 15). Safety in numbers? Not so for corals. ScienceDaily.
Silly Acropora cut corners in Evolution class.
True(ish) facts about the Cuttlefish
Skeptics Vs Reality
Average of NASA GISS, NOAA NCDC, and HadCRUT4 monthly global surface temperature anomalies from January 1970 through November 2012 (green) with linear trends applied to the time frames Jan ‘70 - Oct ‘77, Apr ‘77 - Dec ‘86, Sep ‘87 - Nov ‘96, Jun ‘97 - Dec ‘02, and Nov ‘02 - Nov ‘12.
via The Guardian
I’m going to ruin sea otters for you. Or at least Im going to tarnish their reputation as some of the most charming little beasties in the seas. For as cute as they are while intertwining paws at an aquarium, frolicking among the wafting fronds of California kelp forests, or…
These mobile tools help you become a citizen scientist, whether you’re documenting wildlife or measuring the effects of light pollution
NB. Don’t use your phone as a secchi disk!
Beached giant fish make for unusually fresh specimens of poorly studied deep-sea creature.
Martin Robbins: In the trail I will make a fairly obvious pun about the subject matter before posing an inane question I have no intention of really answering: is this an important scientific finding?
This is spectacular.
XPRIZE dives into Earth’s final frontier – our oceans and their future health
Scientific funding foundation launches new prizes for research into acidification, climate change, garbage and other issues.
The XPRIZE Foundation, once known for competitions for spaceflight innovation, has turned its focus to the seas, launching a series of new prizes for ocean health over the next seven years.
The Ocean Initiative represents the biggest XPRIZE commitment to date, reinforcing earlier competitions for devices to monitor ocean acidification and clean up oil spills.
"The oceans are in trouble. They have been under attack for the last half century, and we do feel we are at a tipping point right now,” said Wendy Schmidt, who is sponsoring the prizes, and is president of the Schmidt Family Foundation and co-founder of the Schmidt Ocean Institute.
The prizes mark the first time the XPRIZE has decided to concentrate on a specific research area. “Prizes in the past have been serendipitous – whatever comes along,” Schmidt said. “Getting this much focus on the inner space is definitely an important thing, I think, for this generation.”
Scientists say oceans remain the last great unknown – and research funding is drying up. Outfitting research vessels or embarking on “grand projects”, such as mapping the ocean floor, remain prohibitively expensive, out of reach of government scientific agencies or public research institutions.
Meanwhile, oceans are under threat from climate change, which is changing the chemistry of sea water, overfishing, and plastic pollution.
The competition launched on Tuesday will invite the public to help design the challenges for innovators, with a view to awarding between three and five prizes over the next decade.
Potential competitions include prizes for innovations in dealing with dead zones, such as those in the Gulf of Mexico, overfishing, which is threatening global food supply, or the great Pacific garbage patch, a vast swathe of remote ocean strewn with plastic debris.
The XPRIZE Foundation took a first dive into ocean health in the wake of the BP oil spill, offering $1.4m prize for the creation of a more efficient oil spill clean-up device.
The foundation last month returned with a new $2m prize for devices to monitor ocean acidification.
With the latest prize announcement, Schmidt and Peter Diamandis, the chairman of the XPRIZE foundation, said they would appeal to the public, as well as seek expert advice, to identify the most urgent challenges to ocean health. “There is not very much money being spent on ocean research, and the impact on humanity is so large. This might be a great place for crowd sourcing to have an impact,” Diamandis said.
The prize competition last month announced a $2m competition for devices that can monitor the changing chemistry of the oceans due to climate change.
Oceans have absorbed nearly a quarter of the greenhouse gas emissions that are responsible for climate change.
With greenhouse gas emissions, oceans are now about 30% more acidic than during the pre-industrial age, a shift that is devastating coral reefs and fisheries, and threatening food supplies.
The $2m competition announced last month will be split into two prizes – one aimed at research institutions for a highly accurate deep-water acidity monitor, the other for a more affordable monitor for shallow waters. The prizes will be announced in 2015.
Suzanne Goldenberg US environment correspondent
theguardian.com, Tuesday 22 October 2013
Photo: Commercial fishermen and other mariners form the words ‘acid ocean’ in Alaska in a 2009 protest against fossil fuel acidification Photograph: Lou Dematteis/REUTERS
First observed over three decades ago, researchers have concluded Speleonectes tulumensis is the first crustacean known to science that uses venom for hunting.
In 2007 researchers discovered structures on the animals’ front claws that resemble hypodermic needles, fueling speculations that they might be injecting something into their prey. That idea is now proving true, as von Reumont and Jenner report in Molecular Biology and Evolution. The researchers found that reservoirs attached to the needle structures are surrounded by muscles that can pump fluid through the needles. Moreover, they found glands in the center of the remipede body that manufacture venom and are connected to the reservoirs.
Von Reumont and Jenner also found that the crustaceans’ venom is made predominantly of peptidases, enzymes that have roles in digestion and are also found in rattlesnake venom, where they help to digest prey. The crustacean venom also contains a toxin that is nearly identical to a paralysis-inducing neurotoxin first described in spiders in 2010. “We think the neurotoxin is stopping their prey getting away and that the peptidases are allowing the remipedes to drink their prey like milkshakes,” says Jenner.
Although venom is common in arthropods such as spiders, scorpions, centipedes and wasps, it has never before been seen in any of the 70,000 known crustaceans, a subgroup of arthropods that includes shrimp and crabs. Why it is so rare in this subgroup remains an open question.
Image: Björn von Reumont/Natural History Museum
Coral Itself May Play Important Role in Regulating Local Climate: Coral Chemicals Protect Against Warming Oceans
Australian marine scientists have found the first evidence that coral itself may play an important role in regulating local climate.
They have discovered that the coral animal — not just its algal symbiont — makes an important sulphur-based molecule with properties to assist it in many ways, ranging from cellular protection in times of heat stress to local climate cooling by encouraging clouds to form.
These findings have been published in the science journal Nature.
The researchers have shown that the coral animal makes dimethylsulphoniopropionate (DMSP). “The characteristic ‘smell of the ocean’ is actually derived from this compound, indicating how abundant the molecule is in the marine environment. In fact we could smell it in a single baby coral,” says AIMS chemist Cherie Motti, and co-author on the paper.
The sulphur-based molecules also serve as nuclei for the formation of water droplets in the atmosphere — and hence help to create clouds. If coral numbers decline, the scientists warn, there could be a major decrease in the production of DMSP and this, in turn, will impede cloud formation.
"Cloud production, especially in the tropics, is an important regulator of climate — because clouds shade Earth and reflect much of the sun’s heat back into space. If fewer clouds are produced, less heat will be reflected — which ultimately will lead to warmer sea surface temperatures," Dr Raina explains.
Science in Public. “Coral itself may play important role in regulating local climate: Coral chemicals protect against warming oceans.” ScienceDaily, 23 Oct. 2013. Web. 24 Oct. 2013.
Photo Credit: © borisoff / Fotolia