Author Archives: Matthew Stansbery

Matthew Stansbery

About Matthew Stansbery

With 12+ years of experience, from import to export and everything in between, I have the pleasure of calling this hobby my own.
Latest Posts

Mapping the Intrinsic Risk of Marine Species

The Journal of Science recently published a paper from the University of California at Berkeley where fossils were studied to help predict which marine species were now at the greatest risk for extinction.”Marine species are under threat from human impacts, but knowledge of their vulnerabilities is limited,” says study co-author, Professor John Pandolfi from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at the University of Queensland. Using fossils to better understand the inherent risk some species have to coastal threats such as human presence, the team was able to map the extinction patterns of marine species. 150430144955_1_540x360“We used these estimates to map natural extinction risk in modern oceans, and compare it with recent human pressures on the ocean such as fishing, and climate change to identify the areas most at risk,” says Professor Pandolfi. Protecting modern species from extinction is the number one goal yet some species have an intrinsic rick of extinction so the teams goal “was to diagnose which species are vulnerable in the modern world, using the past as a guide” says study lead author, Assistant Professor Seth Finnegan from the University of California Berkeley. “We believe the past can inform the way we plan our conservation efforts. However there is a lot more work that needs to be done to understand the causes underlying these patterns and their policy implications,” says Asst. Professor, Seth Finnegan Read more here!… More:

Chromis Make Gender Adjustments to Combat Global Warming

A new study from the University of Sydney Australia has found that the Spiny Chromis reef fish can manipulate the gender of their offspring to combat the gender bias created by increasing ocean temperatures. “The research findings are significant because global warming poses a threat to species with temperature-dependent sex determination (TSD), such as reptiles and fish, potentially skewing the sex-ratio of offspring and, consequently, breeding individuals in a population,”said lead author and UTS Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Research Fellow Dr Jennifer Donelson. “A reduction in the proportion of females in the population could be especially damaging because population growth rate is often constrained by female fertility.” A-poly-rubble-copy_0The understanding of how prenatal gender adjustments can be made is a bit of a mystery to scientists but the findings certainly add to the hope that ecosystems will adapt to the changes occurring all over the globe. “Just precisely how our study species, the Spiny Chromis coral reef fish, engineer these amazing adjustments is unknown and is something we are now investigating. What we do know however is that oceans are warming and emerging research is showing the importance of transgenerational plasticity in reducing the negative impacts of climate change on species with TSD.” Read more here!… More:

The Return of Fish Aid in Reef Recovery

Overfishing is one key impact to the decline of coral reefs worldwide and a new study performed by the Wildlife Conservation Society, James Cook University, and The Australian Institute of Marine Science shows just how important fish are to the recovery of areas affected by coastal threats such as overfishing. “Reef fish play a range of important roles in the functioning of coral reef ecosystems, for example by grazing algae and controlling coral-eating invertebrates, that help to maintain the ecosystem as a whole,” said coauthor Nick Graham of James Cook University. 150408131333_1_900x600“By linking fisheries to ecology, we can now make informed statements about ecosystem function at a given level of fish biomass.” Coastal threats such as overfishing have long been adapted to antiquated techniques so the results of this study will improve efficiency for both reef and fishermen. “The finding that gear restrictions, species selection or local customs can also contribute to fish population recovery is compelling. It demonstrates that managers can use a range of different management strategies in areas where it may not be culturally feasible to establish permanent marine reserves,” said coauthor Stacy Jupiter, WCS Melanesia Program Director. Check out the key findings here!… More:

Coastal Activities Making it Harder for Fish to Breathe

New research out of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University finds that the impacts of human activities like dredging are making it harder for fish to breathe, and are likely increasing the rates of gill disease amongst coastal reef fish. “Fish gills are in direct contact with their environment and are the first line of defense in the animal’s immune response, which makes them the perfect place to look for damage associated with sediment,” adds co-author of the study Dr Jodie Rummer. 150616093642_1_900x600“Suspended sediments result from flood plumes, coastal agricultural and industrial development and from dredging operations and are increasing in coastal waters worldwide,” says co-author, Dr Amelia Wenger. The study simulated sediment accumulation in the lab and subjected clown fish larvae to increased levels, and what they found might be some what of a duality. “The gills in sediment-exposed larval clownfish fish were congested, exhibiting twice as much mucous of what could be found in clean-water exposed fish,” says study lead author, PhD Student Sybille Hess. Yet Rummer added that”Sediment-exposed fish also increased the number of protective cells on their gills, presumably safeguarding the delicate tissue from the damage that sediment particles could cause.” The findings could mean fish are adapting to the elevated levels of sediment but they most definitely underscore the increased need for awareness as it relates to coastal impacts like dredging and agricultural runoff. Read more here.… More:

Football Takes a Hit from The Mantis Shrimp

Researchers from the University of Riverside are studying the internal bone structure of Mantis Shrimp in an effort to reduce the damaging effects of head trauma associated with American Football. Within the dactyl forearms of the Mantis a spiral structure of bone material called chitin is specific, and this formation allows for the buffering of damaging elastic waves such as shear waves, through its forearms. “This is a novel concept,” said David Kisailus, the Winston Chung Endowed Professor in Energy Innovation at UC Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering. 150617144502_1_540x360Researchers will attempt to apply the architecture of mantis shrimp arms to products such as football helmets and body pads: “It implies that we can make composite materials able to filter certain stress waves that would otherwise damage the material.” “The smasher mantis shrimp will hit many times per day. It is amazing,” said Pablo Zavattieri, an associate professor in the Lyles School of Civil Engineering and a University Faculty Scholar at Purdue University. Read more here!  … More:

Geoengineering Coral Reefs

Solar Radiation Management is a theory of approach towards stemming the effects of global warming, and its principle benefits are now the focus of a new paper published by the University of Exeter, with regard to coral reefs worldwide. Dr Paul Halloran, from the Geography department of the University of Exeter adds: “The study shows that the benefit of SRM over a conventional CO2 reduction scenario is dependent on the sensitivity of future thermal bleaching thresholds to changes in seawater acidity. This emphasizes the need to better characterize how warming and ocean acidification may interact to influence coral bleaching over the 21st century.” 150525120430_1_900x600Currently The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is considering and implementing many different approaches to reverse some of the effects of global warming. With this new study finding a more suitable approach towards coral reefs is possible as two hypothetical climate mitigation strategies were compared, and it was found corals have a much better chance of avoiding large-scale bleaching events under the SRM strategical approach. Professor Peter Cox, co-author of the research and from the University of Exeter states: “Coral reefs face a dire situation regardless of how intensively society decarbonizes the economy. In reality there is no direct choice between conventional mitigation and climate engineering but this study shows that we need to either accept that the loss of a large percentage of the world’s reefs is inevitable or start thinking beyond conventional mitigation of CO2 emissions.” Read more here!… More:

New Symbiont Invades Caribbean Coral Reefs

A non-native symbiont to live coral (Symbiodinium trenchii) is slowly invading the Caribbean reefs making it harder for corals to calcify, yet protecting against the warmer waters created by climate change. This non-native micro-algae hails from the Indo-Pacific but its presence on Caribbean reefs is a bit of a conundrum as “the results raise a potentially contentious issue about whether this invasion is relatively good or bad for the long-term productivity of reef corals in the Atlantic Ocean and the ecosystems they support,” said Todd LaJeunesse, associate professor of biology, Penn State. 150601172829_1_900x600The presence of a new species of symbiont in Caribbean waters has researchers wondering when the introduction first occurred: “We found that the Caribbean population of S. trenchii contains very little genetic diversity and is highly inbred,” said Tye Pettay postdoctoral fellow at the University of Delaware. “In contrast, S. trenchii in the Indian and Pacific oceans is extremely diverse and contains far more genetic diversity on a single reef the size of a football field than it does in the entire Caribbean Sea. Our evidence indicates that the introduction of S. trenchii to the Caribbean was relatively recent. There has been no time for it to evolve any novel genetic diversity.” Read more here!… More:

Genetic Diversity within Coral Colonies

A surprising conclusion was made by the Ruhr-Universität of Germany regarding the genetic diversity within a coral colony. Researchers found that genetically diverse polyps where living harmoniously within the same coral structure by studying five different species of coral and over 222 coral colonies. “However, this doesn’t mean we should expect that this variability can compensate for corals dying worldwide due to climate change,” says Maximilian Schweinsberg from the Department of Animal Ecology, Evolution and Biodiversity at Ruhr-Universität. 150610093000_1_540x360“The ongoing climate change and the environmental change resulting thereof have an increasingly severe impact on coral reefs,” explains Schweinsberg. Biologists were able to find that within stony reef-building corals genetically diverse coral polyps can actually assist lesser adapted polyps in growth and metabolism activities, adding to their adaptability and possibly aiding in their survival rates. Read more here!… More:

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