Category Archives: Featured Research

Nassau Grouper populations increased threefold in response to dynamic fishing management actions in the Cayman Islands

Featured Research fromm the Semmen's lab:  Collaborative Conservation Approach for Endangered Reef Fish Yields Dramatic Results

Photo by Paul Humann, copyright Grouper Moon Project

 

A new study from researchers at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego has documented a successful recovery effort among Nassau Grouper populations in the Cayman Islands thanks to an approach involving government agencies, academic researchers, and nonprofit organizations.

The study, published January 6, 2020 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, used a two-pronged approach including tagging and video census data for monitoring and counting Nassau Grouper populations in an effort to more accurately estimate annual numbers of fish in the population and thus provide insight into the effects of ongoing conservation efforts. While many governments have enacted regional or seasonal fishing closures in an attempt to allow recovery of overfished stocks of aggregating reef fishes, this is one of the first studies to provide evidence that these measures can be successful.

“Normally, Nassau Grouper are relatively solitary, and tend to be hard to catch,” said Lynn Waterhouse, a former PhD student in the Semmens Lab at Scripps Oceanography and research biologist at the John G. Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. “But at spawning, they come together en masse to form annual spawning aggregations, where historically tens of thousands of fish come together to reproduce, so they’re very easy for fishermen to catch.”

https://scripps.ucsd.edu/news/collaborative-conservation-approach-endangered-reef-fish-yields-dramatic-results

How Many Parasites Can a Shore Bird Carry?

Featured research from the Hechinger Lab: The conclusion represents a new line of thinking in parasitology.

Birds like this black-crowned Night Heron were studied to understand their parasite load. Photo: Andrew Turner/Ryan Hechinger

A team of ecologists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego has made a breakthrough that has implications for multiple fields within biology as well as epidemiology.

Ecologist Ryan Hechinger and colleagues tested a new way to predict the parasite load carried by California shorebirds they collected and analyzed. The principles they describe, however, could apply to any organism that hosts parasites, including humans. Hechinger describes parasites as the “dark matter” of ecosystems: they are ubiquitous and a key component of energy flow through those systems, but their ecological function is often overlooked.

The study appears today in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. In it, Hechinger’s team – including Kate Sheehan, a former postdoctoral researcher in Hechinger’s lab now at Frostburg State University in Maryland, and Hechinger Lab Manager Andrew Turner – describes how the amount of space inside or on a host, whether it be an ostrich or hummingbird, elephant or mouse, has less to do with the total parasite load it can carry at any given time and is more related to how much energy it can supply to those parasites.

https://scripps.ucsd.edu/news/how-many-parasites-can-bird-carry

Findings help predict the fate of coral reefs

Scientists find that corals rely more on hunting than previously thought

When it comes to feeding, corals have two options. Most of their nutrients come from microscopic algae living inside of them, but if those algae aren’t creating enough sustenance, corals can use their tentacles to grab and eat prey swimming nearby. Paper lead author Mike Fox – a postdoctoral scholar at WHOI who completed this research as a PhD student at Scripps – found that some corals rely more on hunting than scientists previously suspected.
The study published Tuesday, September 17, in the journal Functional Ecology.

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scripps oceanography uc san diego