Category: Biology

The effects of temperature and methane gas levels on the bacterial mats that reside on the gas hydrates in the Barkley Canyon

K. MacLellan \ Oceans First, Issue 2, 2015, pgs. 50-59.

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Abstract:

Methane gas hydrates reside in harsh environments and can be an ecological and environmental hazard if their high pressure and low temperature conditions are not met. However, they are capable of supporting a diverse ecosystem that includes bacterial mats. An Ocean Networks Canada’s observatory allows the hydrates located off the west coast of Vancouver to be continuously monitored by methane and temperature sensors as well as observed seasonally by remotely operated vehicles. These observations made it possible to study the effect that water temperature and methane levels have on the bacterial mats that reside on the top of methane hydrate mounds. High methane levels may result in the decreased presence of bacterial mats due to the bacteria’s adaptation to move through different layers of hydrate sediment when the environment is disturbed.

Downfall of a Phylum? The negative effects of ocean acidification and ocean temperature rise on foraminifera populations

J. Sicheri \ Oceans First, Issue 2, 2015, pgs. 42-49.

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Abstract:

Ocean acidification and rising ocean temperatures both pose threats to many marine organisms’ physiology and habitats. This paper will establish whether or not these factors have a negative impact on populations of foraminifera, an important type of zooplankton, and if so, to what severity? In addition, this paper promotes the need for more research into the effects of acidification and warming on marine life. While the predicted impacts in reviewed studies varied in severity, they all agreed that ocean acidification, and to a lesser extent ocean temperature rise, will negatively impact foraminifera. Most researchers also agreed that more research must be done to understand the full extent of the impacts of ocean acidification and ocean temperature rise on foraminifera. This paper concludes that the cumulative effect of climate change as a whole be more harmful to foraminifera than any individual factor. Research examining the combined impact of climate change factors such as ocean temperature rise and ocean acidification should be undertaken.

The Effects of SCUBA Diving on Coral Reefs

R. Marsman \ Oceans First, Issue 2, 2015, pgs. 33-41.

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Abstract:

Coral reef habitats are in danger of destruction due to the carelessness of divers. Stony coral, the foundation from which coral reefs are built, have proven to be the most easily damaged by SCUBA divers in the Caribbean and Red seas. Through observation of the behaviour of divers around coral habitats over ten minute intervals, researchers were also able to determine that the dive frequency of an area and the level of experience of the SCUBA divers are extremely important factors influencing how much damage is being done to corals. Overall, it is the areas of high dive intensity and the diving groups with the least experience that cause the most damage to all coral types. Aside from improving education of divers, it is important to monitor them and lessen the frequency at which certain sites are being dived in order to preserve the fragile balance of diversity within these habitats.

No Air: Should We Care? Examining Spirontocaris sica living in a hypoxic environment

E. MacLean \ Oceans First, Issue 2, 2015, pgs. 23-32.

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Abstract:

The increase of hypoxic zones in the oceans is jeopardizing marine ecosystems. Benthic ecosystems have shown to be particularly vulnerable to these zones. In this paper, the correlation between hypoxic oxygen levels and a benthic shrimp, Spirontocaris sica, was examined to understand how benthic organisms might adapt to hypoxia. Spirontocaris sica was studied in its naturally hypoxic environment, Saanich Inlet, BC. In an examination of the Spirontocaris sica population and oxygen levels over the period from October 2009 to October 2010, no correlation between the two variables was observed. These findings suggest that the Spirontocaris sica population is independent of oxygen levels. Possible explanations of this trend may be due to an abundant food source or an environmental factor causing abnormal dispersal. These other factors should be investigated in future studies as they have the potential to reactivate post-hypoxic ecosystems.

Narwhals and Climate Change: Effects of rising ocean temperatures on the Arctic population of narwhals

L. Henderson \ Oceans First, Issue 2, 2015, pgs. 1-9.

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Abstract:

Climate change associated with increasing ocean temperatures is impacting the narwhal population of the Arctic Ocean, an area highly susceptible to rising temperatures. Among other things, these unique cetaceans are being affected by ice-entrapments and top-down controls from killer whale predation. Examining these factors can help predict the dangers to narwhal populations for future conservation efforts. Increasingly delayed ice formation due to global warming is causing high mortality of narwhals as they become entrapped in the rapidly freezing ice of the harsh winter. Warming ocean temperatures are opening up Arctic waters for killer whales to hunt narwhals as well, killing many more than they need for food in the process. The small population of narwhals is especially vulnerable to climate change. The narwhals are an important part of the Arctic food chain, being one of many secondary consumers, and increase its biodiversity with their distinctive protruding tusk, unique to the narwhal only. This review synthesizes the events causing increased mortality rates of narwhals to provide a scope for future conservation efforts.

The negative effects of blast fishing on coral reefs in Indonesia: Can they recover?

S. England \ Oceans First, Issue 1, 2014, pgs. 44-50.

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Abstract:

Blast fishing, the destructive and illegal fishing method that involves using dynamite, is the cause of extensive damage to many coral reefs throughout Southeast Asia. Using explosives not only kills the vast majority of organisms within the blast radius, but also shatters coral skeletons leaving large rubble fields that prevent the recovery of damaged coral. Methods of rehabilitation have been implemented in order to determine how effective rehabilitation is in aiding the regrowth and recovery of damaged reefs near Indonesia. Economically friendly methods such as using rock piles, plastic mesh and cement slabs as treatments were examined and compared. The results of the studies showed that rock piles increased biodiversity and favoured the recovery of hard coral cover more than the other two treatment methods. Although rehabilitation is necessary for reef recovery, the elimination of blast fishing is equally as important to ensure healthy reefs and newly recovered reefs are not harmed.

 

A taxonomical comparison of riverine and lacustrine Lamprologus and shell dwelling Neolamprologus species, with consideration of morphological and phylogenetic classifications

D. Schenck \ Oceans First, Issue 1, 2014, pgs. 37-43.

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Abstract:

Lamprologini is a tribe of cichlid fish that inhabit Southern Africa. The current taxonomy of the tribe has been called into question by recent phylogenetic studies. Specifically, the classification of Lamprologus, a genus which contains both lacustrine and riverine species, has been shown to be inadequate. In order to represent current research and a more realistic portrayal of evolutionary history the splitting of the current genus, separating the riverine species, is suggested. In addition, the inclusion of select shell dwelling Neolamprologus species into a group with lacustrine Lamprologus species is argued for. This is to better represent current molecular data.