Marine science update 21st August 2011

August 21st, 2011

The hardest coral on the reef may well be a softie, as much of the rocky structure of these reefs is found to derive from the sclerites from soft corals! This debate over how much support environmental agencies will grow as our economic worries deepen, how high up the scale do you put the environment? Essential for our continued existence on the planet, or jobs/hospitals now (environment later – maybe)? This week DSN reports on the debate in the US in our conservation leader. Our pollution section, however, points out that one of the most damaging aquatic pollutants – nitrogen from fertilisers – can be reduced while saving money and increasing yields…

Marine science

Simple eel: World’s most primitive eel found off Palau. ScienceDaily (Aug. 17, 2011)

Soft coral builds strong reefs: Research suggests that soft corals contribute directly to hard reef formation, with microscopic sclerites from the soft corals forming a significant proportion of the hard reef structure. ScienceDaily (Aug. 16, 2011)

Beach life: How do physical, chemical and biological factors on a beach influence the community that lives there? Simple bivariate relationships are not very useful in describing beach communities, but this can be done when a larger number of variables, taking into account all three primary factors, is considered.
Ortega Cisneros K, Smit AJ, Laudien J, Schoeman DS (2011) Complex, Dynamic Combination of Physical, Chemical and Nutritional Variables Controls Spatio-Temporal Variation of Sandy Beach Community Structure. PLoS ONE 6(8): e23724. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0023724

Filling in the gaps: Modelling real movement based on telemetry tracking of the northern fur seal (Callorhinus ursinus) in the Bering Sea.
Hanks EM, Hooten MB, Johnson DS, Sterling JT (2011) Velocity-Based Movement Modeling for Individual and Population Level Inference. PLoS ONE 6(8): e22795. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0022795

Lost city: Models of the dispersal of chitons found in deep sea habitats suggests that there are additional populations, as yet undiscovered.
Yearsley JM, Sigwart JD (2011) Larval Transport Modeling of Deep-Sea Invertebrates Can Aid the Search for Undiscovered Populations. PLoS ONE 6(8): e23063. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0023063

Pinning down parasitic copepods: Morphology and diversity of the Monstrilloida. Their life cycle consists of a planktonic stage which locates its molluscan or polychaete host before changing into a parasitic juvenile phase, with two feeding appendages that penetrate into the host’s tissues. These break off when the animal matures, giving a free-swimming adult.
Suárez-Morales E (2011) Diversity of the Monstrilloida (Crustacea: Copepoda). PLoS ONE 6(8): e22915. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0022915

Flu season: Infection of cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) appears to be cyclical, high disease rates can effect the entire marine food-chain through the release of macro- and micronutrients from dead cells. ScienceDaily (Aug. 11, 2011)

Not on speaking terms: Genetic analysis shows that there are three sub-populations of the coral Pocillopora damicornis between the Gulf of Pnama and that of Chiriqui. The populations are may be diverging due to restricted transport of larvae in the region.
Combosch DJ, Vollmer SV (2011) Population Genetics of an Ecosystem-Defining Reef Coral Pocillopora damicornis in the Tropical Eastern Pacific. PLoS ONE 6(8): e21200. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0021200

DNA trail: DNA persists at detectable levels in freshwater aquatic systems for up to a month after the species in question is no longer present.
Dejean T, Valentini A, Duparc A, Pellier-Cuit S, Pompanon F, et al. (2011) Persistence of Environmental DNA in Freshwater Ecosystems. PLoS ONE 6(8): e23398. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0023398

Fast fingerprinting: A quicker way to identify marine microbial communities?
Coll-Lladó M, Acinas SG, Pujades C, Pedrós-Alió C (2011) Transcriptome Fingerprinting Analysis: An Approach to Explore Gene Expression Patterns in Marine Microbial Communities. PLoS ONE 6(8): e22950. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0022950


Economy or environment? Debate in the US steps up as environmental agencies face cuts. Marine Conservation News, August 08, 2011

Human pathogen attacks coral: The pathogen Serratia marcescens has been associated with disease in elkhorn coral (Acropora palmata).
Sutherland KP, Shaban S, Joyner JL, Porter JW, Lipp EK (2011) Human Pathogen Shown to Cause Disease in the Threatened Eklhorn Coral Acropora palmata. PLoS ONE 6(8): e23468. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0023468

Global map of coral stress: Combining all of the stresses faced by corals into a single map showing where stress is most severe, but also indicating how stress factors other than climate change might be reduced to improve the chance of coral survival.
Maina J, McClanahan TR, Venus V, Ateweberhan M, Madin J (2011) Global Gradients of Coral Exposure to Environmental Stresses and Implications for Local Management. PLoS ONE 6(8): e23064. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0023064

Fish recovery: The Cabo Pulmo National Park, a no take zone created in 1995, saw a 460% increase in fish biomass up to 2009. This is the largest increase seen in any protected area, and reflects strong community leadership and local environmental effects. Economic benefits through tourism suggest that these community managed schemes are a viable option.
Aburto-Oropeza O, Erisman B, Galland GR, Mascareñas-Osorio I, Sala E, et al. (2011) Large Recovery of Fish Biomass in a No-Take Marine Reserve. PLoS ONE 6(8): e23601. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0023601

Corals in cold waters: Recent warm years have resulted in bleaching of of many corals, now researchers have found that some corals are equally susceptible to unexpected cold temperatures. An unseasonal cold snap in early 2010, when water temperatures in the upper Florida Keys dropped below 18°C for two weeks resulted in devastation of the reef building corals there.
Lirman D, Schopmeyer S, Manzello D, Gramer LJ, Precht WF, et al. (2011) Severe 2010 Cold-Water Event Caused Unprecedented Mortality to Corals of the Florida Reef Tract and Reversed Previous Survivorship Patterns. PLoS ONE 6(8): e23047. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0023047

Scent of death: It may be possible to control the spread of sea lampreys in the Great Lakes with chemicals that mimic those given off by their dead bretheren. ScienceDaily (Aug. 6, 2011)

Fisheries and exploitation

Coral reef fish flee fishermen: Species normally caught by spear-gun display faster flight reactions than other fish.
Januchowski-Hartley FA, Graham NAJ, Feary DA, Morove T, Cinner JE (2011) Fear of Fishers: Human Predation Explains Behavioral Changes in Coral Reef Fishes. PLoS ONE 6(8): e22761. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0022761

Fair wind farm: The impact on birds from North Sea wind farms is less than feared, whilst the structures and their footings provide a new habitat for a range of organisms, increasing diversity. ScienceDaily (Aug. 8, 2011)

Flexing antimicrobial mussels: Myticin C – an anti-microbial agent identified in the mussel Mytilus galloprovincialis is shown to protect against some viral infections.
Balseiro P, Falcó A, Romero A, Dios S, Martínez-López A, et al. (2011) Mytilus galloprovincialis Myticin C: A Chemotactic Molecule with Antiviral Activity and Immunoregulatory Properties. PLoS ONE 6(8): e23140. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0023140

Oyster wall: Ozster banks can help to protect shorelines from errosion.
Scyphers SB, Powers SP, Heck KL Jr, Byron D (2011) Oyster Reefs as Natural Breakwaters Mitigate Shoreline Loss and Facilitate Fisheries. PLoS ONE 6(8): e22396. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0022396


Nitrogen spreadsheet: The cost benefit analysis of adding nitrogen in agriculture: Reduced usage in Europe and the US alongside increased yields suggest that simple models need to be developed for global use, so that farmers can see clearly what the optimum amount of fertiliser use is. This will reduce the cost of fertiliser to the farmer, and minimise environmental damage.
Good AG, Beatty PH (2011) Fertilizing Nature: A Tragedy of Excess in the Commons. PLoS Biol 9(8): e1001124. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1001124

Climate change

Mackerel movement: Atlantic mackerel (Scomber scombrus) stocks on the Eastern coast of the US have moved 255km northeastward and into shallower waters in response to climate change. ScienceDaily (Aug. 15, 2011)

How fast can you change? Measuring the ability of invertebrate larvae to respond to increased marine acidity.
Sunday JM, Crim RN, Harley CDG, Hart MW (2011) Quantifying Rates of Evolutionary Adaptation in Response to Ocean Acidification. PLoS ONE 6(8): e22881. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0022881

Fizzy oysters: How changes to carbonate chemistry due to increased concentrations of carbon dioxide effect the embryonic growth of the pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas).
Gazeau F, Gattuso J-P, Greaves M, Elderfield H, Peene J, et al. (2011) Effect of Carbonate Chemistry Alteration on the Early Embryonic Development of the Pacific Oyster (Crassostrea gigas). PLoS ONE 6(8): e23010. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0023010

Climate killer: Models of fish populations in the Great Lakes (fresh water) indicate that climate change is a greater threat than invasive species.
Sharma S, Vander Zanden MJ, Magnuson JJ, Lyons J (2011) Comparing Climate Change and Species Invasions as Drivers of Coldwater Fish Population Extirpations. PLoS ONE 6(8): e22906. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0022906

Can you do without snails? It looks like ocean acidification will lead to a reduced the harvest of marine molluscs such as mussels and oysters. This may lead to deprivation in many nations – those identified in the report include Senegal, Madagascar, Gambia, Mozambique and Haiti. Via EurekaAlert! 2nd Aug 2011

Posted in Conservation, Marine science update, Science