ResearchPad - marine-environments https://www.researchpad.co Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[Jellyfish distribution in space and time predicts leatherback sea turtle hot spots in the Northwest Atlantic]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_14580 Leatherback sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) migrate to temperate Canadian Atlantic waters to feed on gelatinous zooplankton (‘jellyfish’) every summer. However, the spatio-temporal connection between predator foraging and prey-field dynamics has not been studied at the large scales over which these migratory animals occur. We use 8903 tows of groundfish survey jellyfish bycatch data between 2006–2017 to reveal spatial jellyfish hot spots, and matched these data to satellite-telemetry leatherback data over time and space. We found highly significant overlap of jellyfish and leatherback distribution on the Scotian Shelf (r = 0.89), moderately strong correlations of jellyfish and leatherback spatial hot spots in the Gulf of St. Lawrence (r = 0.59), and strong correlations in the Bay of Fundy (r = 0.74), which supports much lower jellyfish density. Over time, jellyfish bycatch data revealed a slight northward range shift in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, consistent with gradual warming of these waters. Two-stage generalized linear modelling corroborated that sea surface temperature, year, and region were significant predictors of jellyfish biomass, suggesting a climate signal on jellyfish distribution, which may shift leatherback critical feeding habitat over time. These findings are useful in predicting dynamic habitat use for endangered leatherback turtles, and can help to anticipate large-scale changes in their distribution in response to climate-related changes in prey availability.

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<![CDATA[Two new sponge species (Demospongiae: Chalinidae and Suberitidae) isolated from hyperarid mangroves of Qatar with notes on their potential antibacterial bioactivity]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_14508 This study presents the taxonomic description of two new sponge species that are intimately associated with the hyperarid mangrove ecosystem of Qatar. The study includes a preliminary evaluation of the sponges’ potential bioactivity against pathogens. Chalinula qatari sp. nov. is a fragile thinly encrusting sponge with a vivid maroon colour in life, often with oscular chimneys and commonly recorded on pneumatophores in the intertidal and shallow subtidal zone. Suberites luna sp. nov. is a massive globular-lobate sponge with a greenish-black colour externally and a yellowish orange colour internally, recorded on pneumatophores in the shallow subtidal zone, with large specimens near the seagrass ecosystem that surrounds the mangrove. For both species, a drug extraction protocol and an antibacterial experiment was performed. The extract of Suberites luna sp. nov. was found to be bioactive against recognized pathogens such as Staphylococcus epidermidis, Staphylococcus aureus and Enterococcus faecalis, but no bioactive activity was recorded for Chalinula qatari sp. nov. This study highlights the importance of increasing bioprospecting effort in hyperarid conditions and the importance of combining bioprospecting with taxonomic studies for the identification of novel marine drugs.

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<![CDATA[Examination of the ocean as a source for atmospheric microplastics]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_13804 Global plastic litter pollution has been increasing alongside demand since plastic products gained commercial popularity in the 1930’s. Current plastic pollutant research has generally assumed that once plastics enter the ocean they are there to stay, retained permanently within the ocean currents, biota or sediment until eventual deposition on the sea floor or become washed up onto the beach. In contrast to this, we suggest it appears that some plastic particles could be leaving the sea and entering the atmosphere along with sea salt, bacteria, virus’ and algae. This occurs via the process of bubble burst ejection and wave action, for example from strong wind or sea state turbulence. In this manuscript we review evidence from the existing literature which is relevant to this theory and follow this with a pilot study which analyses microplastics (MP) in sea spray. Here we show first evidence of MP particles, analysed by μRaman, in marine boundary layer air samples on the French Atlantic coast during both onshore (average of 2.9MP/m3) and offshore (average of 9.6MP/m3) winds. Notably, during sampling, the convergence of sea breeze meant our samples were dominated by sea spray, increasing our capacity to sample MPs if they were released from the sea. Our results indicate a potential for MPs to be released from the marine environment into the atmosphere by sea-spray giving a globally extrapolated figure of 136000 ton/yr blowing on shore.

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<![CDATA[Bund removal to re-establish tidal flow, remove aquatic weeds and restore coastal wetland services—North Queensland, Australia]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/Neac5db12-b809-4a22-afa7-0c243544d6ab

The shallow tidal and freshwater coastal wetlands adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef lagoon provide a vital nursery and feeding complex that supports the life cycles of marine and freshwater fish, important native vegetation and vital bird habitat. Urban and agricultural development threaten these wetlands, with many of the coastal wetlands becoming lost or changed due to the construction of artificial barriers (e.g. bunds, roads, culverts and floodgates). Infestation by weeds has become a major issue within many of the wetlands modified (bunded) for ponded pasture growth last century. A range of expensive chemical and mechanical control methods have been used in an attempt to restore some of these coastal wetlands, with limited success. This study describes an alternative approach to those methods, investigating the impact of tidal reinstatement after bund removal on weed infestation, associated changes in water quality, and fish biodiversity, in the Boolgooroo lagoon region of the Mungalla wetlands, East of Ingham in North Queensland. High resolution remote sensing, electrofishing and in-water logging was used to track changes over time– 1 year before and 4 years after removal of an earth bund. With tides only penetrating the wetland a few times yearly, gross changes towards a more natural system occurred within a relatively short timeframe, leading to a major reduction in infestation of olive hymenachne, water hyacinth and salvina, reappearance of native vegetation, improvements in water quality, and a tripling of fish diversity. Weed abundance and water quality does appear to oscillate however, dependent on summer rainfall, as changes in hydraulic pressure stops or allows tidal ingress (fresh/saline cycling). With an estimated 30% of coastal wetlands bunded in the Great Barrier Reef region, a passive remediation method such as reintroduction of tidal flow by removal of an earth bund or levee could provide a more cost effective and sustainable means of controlling freshwater weeds and improving coastal water quality into the future.

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<![CDATA[Na+/H+ exchanger (NHE) in Pacific white shrimp (Litopenaeus vannamei): Molecular cloning, transcriptional response to acidity stress, and physiological roles in pH homeostasis]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c803c66d5eed0c484ad88a5

Na+/H+ exchangers are the most common membrane proteins involved in the regulation of intracellular pH that concurrently transport Na+ into the cells and H+ out of the cells. In this study, the full-length cDNA of the Na+/H+ exchanger (NHE) from the Pacific white shrimp (Litopenaeus vannamei) was cloned. The LvNHE cDNA is 3167 bp long, contains a 5’-untranslated region (UTR) of 74 bp and a 3’-UTR of 456 bp and an open reading frame (ORF) of 2637 bp, coding for a protein of 878 amino acids with 11 putative transmembrane domains and a long cytoplasmic tail. LvNHE shows high sequence homology with mud crab NHE at the amino acid level. LvNHE mRNA was detected in the hepatopancreas, gill, eyestalk, skin, heart, intestine, muscle, brain and stomach, with the highest abundance in the intestine. In the shrimp intestinal fragment cultures exposed to gradually declining pH medium (from pH 8.0 to pH 6.4), the LvNHE mRNA expression was significantly stimulated, with the highest response when incubated in pH 7.0 medium for 6 h. To investigate the functional roles of LvNHE in pH regulation at the physiological and cellular levels, the LvNHE mRNA expression was silenced by siRNA knockdown. Upon low-pH challenge, the hemolymph pH was significantly reduced in the LvNHE mRNA knockdown shrimp. In addition, knockdown of LvNHE mRNA reduced the recovery capacity of intracellular pH in intestinal fragment cultures after acidification. Altogether, this study demonstrates the role of NHE in shrimp response to low pH stress and provides new insights into the acid/base homeostasis mechanisms of crustaceans.

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<![CDATA[Marine environmental DNA biomonitoring reveals seasonal patterns in biodiversity and identifies ecosystem responses to anomalous climatic events]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c6730a5d5eed0c484f37e31

Marine ecosystems are changing rapidly as the oceans warm and become more acidic. The physical factors and the changes to ocean chemistry that they drive can all be measured with great precision. Changes in the biological composition of communities in different ocean regions are far more challenging to measure because most biological monitoring methods focus on a limited taxonomic or size range. Environmental DNA (eDNA) analysis has the potential to solve this problem in biological oceanography, as it is capable of identifying a huge phylogenetic range of organisms to species level. Here we develop and apply a novel multi-gene molecular toolkit to eDNA isolated from bulk plankton samples collected over a five-year period from a single site. This temporal scale and level of detail is unprecedented in eDNA studies. We identified consistent seasonal assemblages of zooplankton species, which demonstrates the ability of our toolkit to audit community composition. We were also able to detect clear departures from the regular seasonal patterns that occurred during an extreme marine heatwave. The integration of eDNA analyses with existing biotic and abiotic surveys delivers a powerful new long-term approach to monitoring the health of our world’s oceans in the context of a rapidly changing climate.

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<![CDATA[Response of Sthenoteuthis oualaniensis to marine environmental changes in the north-central South China Sea based on satellite and in situ observations]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c59feaad5eed0c4841352bc

In the South China Sea (SCS), Sthenoteuthis oualaniensis (S. oualaniensis) generally has the highest stock density in spring and occupies an important position in fisheries. The responses of S. oualaniensis to marine environments in the north-central SCS in spring (March to May) from 2006 to 2010 were analyzed using satellite and in situ observations, with generalized additive models (GAMs). A high proportion variation in catch per unit effort (CPUE) was explained by environmental variables, including sea surface temperature (SST; explaining 13.8%) and the interaction between SST and chlorophyll a (Chl-a) concentration (explaining 16.9%). SSTs within the range of 24–28°C and Chl-a concentrations within 0.10–0.35 mg/m3 had positive effects on S. oualaniensis CPUE, and SST within 28–29.5°Cand Chl-a concentrations within 0.05–0.20 mg/m3 had negative effects. In addition, the response time of the maximum standardized catch per unit effort (SCPUE) in May to the maximum Chl-a in March was approximately six ten-day time step. The higher Chl-a and smaller stock size of S. oualaniensis in early March 2008 were partly associated with climatic anomalies caused by La Niña in spring and the limitation of S. oualaniensisby low temperature in 2008. The findings in this study can help better protect and manage S. oualaniensis resources in the SCS.

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<![CDATA[Regional variability in reproductive traits of the Acropora hyacinthus species complex in the Western Pacific Region]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c59fea9d5eed0c4841352b0

Understanding natural variations in the life history traits of reef-building corals under different environmental conditions is an area of active research. This study compares variability in the reproductive and genetic traits of the hermaphroditic broadcast spawning coral Acropora hyacinthus, from the Western Pacific Region, across six different latitudes [Japan (33° and 31°N), Taiwan (23°, 22° and 21°N), and Indonesia (5°S)]. Egg sizes among corals in the lowest latitude studied were significantly larger than those at high latitudes, while the mean number of eggs were significantly different only among high latitude and two out of the three mid latitude locations studied. Egg numbers were significantly negatively correlated with egg and testis volumes, indicating reproductive trade-offs across locations. Female gonad volumes were smaller at high latitudes but significantly larger at lower latitudes, being positively correlated with seawater temperatures. Furthermore, high genetic similarities among populations suggest active gene flow among low-, mid- and high-latitude locations. An exception to this trend, the mid-latitude location of Penghu (off western Taiwan) formed an independent group with highly similar genetic and reproductive traits, suggesting reproductive isolation with local adaptations. This study reports natural spatial variations in the reproductive traits of A. hyacinthus at different latitudinal locations, which may serve as baseline information to predict how the life histories of corals in general respond to the impacts of climate change.

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<![CDATA[Warming seas increase cold-stunning events for Kemp’s ridley sea turtles in the northwest Atlantic]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c59feb8d5eed0c484135335

Since the 1970s, the magnitude of turtle cold-stun strandings have increased dramatically within the northwestern Atlantic. Here, we examine oceanic, atmospheric, and biological factors that may affect the increasing trend of cold-stunned Kemp’s ridleys in Cape Cod Bay, Massachusetts, United States of America. Using machine learning and Bayesian inference modeling techniques, we demonstrate higher cold-stunning years occur when the Gulf of Maine has warmer sea surface temperatures in late October through early November. Surprisingly, hatchling numbers in Mexico, a proxy for population abundance, was not identified as an important factor. Further, using our Bayesian count model and forecasted sea surface temperature projections, we predict more than 2,300 Kemp’s ridley turtles may cold-stun annually by 2031 as sea surface temperatures continue to increase within the Gulf of Maine. We suggest warmer sea surface temperatures may have modified the northerly distribution of Kemp’s ridleys and act as an ecological bridge between the Gulf Stream and nearshore waters. While cold-stunning may currently account for a minor proportion of juvenile mortality, we recommend continuing efforts to rehabilitate cold-stunned individuals to maintain population resiliency for this critically endangered species in the face of a changing climate and continuing anthropogenic threats.

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<![CDATA[Characterization of the intestinal microbiota of the sea cucumber Holothuria glaberrima]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c5b5241d5eed0c4842bc579

High-throughput 16S rRNA gene sequencing has been used to identify the intestinal microbiota of many animal species, but that of marine invertebrate organisms remains largely unknown. There are only a few high-throughput sequencing studies on the intestinal microbiota of echinoderms (non-vertebrate Deuterostomes). Here we describe the intestinal microbiota of the sea cucumber Holothuria glaberrima, an echinoderm, well-known for its remarkable power of regeneration. We characterized the microbiota from the anterior descending intestine, the medial intestine (these two comprise the small intestine) and the posterior descending intestine (or large intestine), using pyrosequencing to sequence the V4 region of the 16S rRNA gene. We compared animals in their natural marine environment and in sea-water aquaria. A total of 8,172 OTU’s were grouped in 10 bacterial phyla, 23 classes, 44 orders, 83 families, 127 genera and 1 group of unknown bacteria, present across the digestive tract of 10 specimens. The results showed that the anterior intestine is dominated by Proteobacteria (61%) and Bacteroidetes (22%), the medium intestine is similar but with lower Bacteroidetes (4%), and the posterior intestine was remarkably different, dominated by Firmicutes (48%) and Bacteroidetes (35%). The structure of the community changed in animals kept in aquaria, which had a general dominance of Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes, regardless the intestinal segment. Our results evidence that in the natural sea environment, there is intestinal segment differentiation in the microbiota of H. glaberrima, which is lost in artificial conditions. This is relevant for physiological studies, such as mechanisms of digestive regeneration, which might be affected by the microbiota.

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<![CDATA[Anaesthetic efficacy of Aqui-S, Benzoak, and MS-222 on lumpfish (Cyclopterus lumpus) fries. Impact from temperature, salinity, and fasting]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c50c45bd5eed0c4845e8624

Large numbers of lumpfish are produced for the Norwegian salmon industry and are used to combat sea lice infestations. Periodically high mortality of farmed lumpfish demonstrates the need to improve farming conditions and animal welfare. As part of such efforts, the present work tested the efficacy of three anaesthetic chemicals on lumpfish fries (average weight of 0.97 g). The anaesthetic impact from salinity (15 ppt–18 ppt), temperature (12°C versus 7 and 18°C), and fasting conditions (three days) was also examined. Surgical anaesthesia was induced within 3 to 5 min (preferred time) at concentrations of 18 mg/L (Aqui-S), 37.5 mg/L (Benzoak), and 60 mg/L (buffered MS-222). Safety margins were regarded as low when using Aqui-S; therefore, this chemical was not considered suitable for prolonged exposures. The lumpfish made a rapid recovery from both Benzoak and MS-222 even after 20 min of exposure. A 6°C increase in exposure temperature (reaching 18°C) was found to delay or inhibit recovery. The effect of a 5°C decrease (down to 7°C) significantly reduced induction time for MS-222 and was insignificant for Aqui-S, while it prolonged Benzoak induction time significantly and gave a longer recovery period. Fasting resulted in 70% recovery after 20 min of Aqui-S exposure compared to 0% in fed fish but had only minor effects on Benzoak and MS-222. Use of brackish water (15 ppt–18 ppt) gave 20% recovery from Aqui-S and significantly shorter recovery time from MS-222 exposure, while the effects on Benzoak were insignificant.

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<![CDATA[The tropical-subtropical coupling in the Southeast Atlantic from the perspective of the northern Benguela upwelling system]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c50c468d5eed0c4845e86f5

In the Benguela upwelling system, the environmental conditions are determined to a large extent by central water masses advected from remote areas onto the shelf. The origin, spreading pathways and fate of those water masses are investigated with a regional ocean model that is analysed using Eulerian passive tracers and on the basis of Lagrangian trajectories. Two major water masses influencing the Benguela upwelling system are identified: tropical South Atlantic Central Water (SACW) and subtropical Eastern South Atlantic Central Water (ESACW). The spreading of tropical waters into the subtropical Benguela upwelling system is mediated by equatorial currents and their continuation in the Southeast Atlantic. This tropical-subtropical connection has been attributed to signal propagation in the equatorial and coastal waveguides. However, there exists an additional spreading path for tropical central water in the open ocean. This mass transport fluctuates on a seasonal scale around an averaged meridional transport in Sverdrup balance. The inter-annual variability of the advection of tropical waters is related to Benguela Niños, as evidenced by the 2010/2011 event. The northern Benguela upwelling system is a transition zone between SACW and ESACW since they encounter each other at about 20°S. Both water masses have seasonal variable shares in the upwelled water there. To summarise the main pathways of central water mass transport, an enhanced scheme for the subsurface circulation in the Southeast Atlantic is presented.

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<![CDATA[Rapa Nui (Easter Island) monument (ahu) locations explained by freshwater sources]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c40f7d9d5eed0c484386ad7

Explaining the processes underlying the emergence of monument construction is a major theme in contemporary anthropological archaeology, and recent studies have employed spatially-explicit modeling to explain these patterns. Rapa Nui (Easter Island, Chile) is famous for its elaborate ritual architecture, particularly numerous monumental platforms (ahu) and statuary (moai). To date, however, we lack explicit modeling to explain spatial and temporal aspects of monument construction. Here, we use spatially-explicit point-process modeling to explore the potential relations between ahu construction locations and subsistence resources, namely, rock mulch agricultural gardens, marine resources, and freshwater sources—the three most critical resources on Rapa Nui. Through these analyses, we demonstrate the central importance of coastal freshwater seeps for precontact populations. Our results suggest that ahu locations are most parsimoniously explained by distance from freshwater sources, in particular coastal seeps, with important implications for community formation and inter-community competition in precontact times.

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<![CDATA[Bacteria associated with moon jellyfish during bloom and post-bloom periods in the Gulf of Trieste (northern Adriatic)]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c478c4ad5eed0c484bd154e

Jellyfish are a prominent component of the plankton community. They frequently form conspicuous blooms which may interfere with different human enterprises. Among the aspects that remain understudied are jellyfish associations with microorganisms having potentially important implications for organic matter cycling. To the best of our knowledge, this study is the first to investigate the bacterial community associated with live moon jellyfish (Aurelia solida, Scyohozoa) in the Adriatic Sea. Using 16S rRNA clone libraries and culture-based methods, we have analyzed the bacterial community composition of different body parts: the exumbrella surface, oral arms, and gastric cavity, and investigated possible differences in medusa-associated bacterial community structure at the time of the jellyfish population peak, and during the senescent phase at the end of bloom. Microbiota associated with moon jellyfish was different from ambient seawater bacterial assemblage and varied between different body parts. Betaproteobacteria (Burkholderia, Cupriavidus and Achromobacter) dominated community in the gastral cavity of medusa, while Alphaproteobacteria (Phaeobacter, Ruegeria) and Gammaproteobacteria (Stenotrophomonas, Alteromonas, Pseudoalteromonas and Vibrio) prevailed on ‘outer’ body parts. Bacterial community structure changed during senescent phase, at the end of the jellyfish bloom, showing an increased abundance of Gammaproteobacteria, exclusively Vibrio. The results of cultured bacterial isolates showed the dominance of Gammaproeteobacteria, especially Vibrio and Pseudoalteromonas in all body parts. Our results suggest that jellyfish associated bacterial community might have an important role for the host, and that anthropogenic pollution in the Gulf of Trieste might affect their community structure.

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<![CDATA[Tropicalization of the barrier islands of the northern Gulf of Mexico: A comparison of herbivory and decomposition rates between smooth cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora) and black mangrove (Avicennia germinans)]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c3d0131d5eed0c484039154

The expansion of black mangrove Avicennia germinans into historically smooth cordgrass Spartina alterniflora-dominated marshes with warming temperatures heralds the migration of the marsh-mangrove ecotone northward in the northern Gulf of Mexico. With this shift, A. germinans is expected to outcompete S. alterniflora where it is able to establish, offering another prevalent food source to first order consumers. In this study, we find A. germinans leaves to be preferable to chewing herbivores, but simultaneously, chewing herbivores cause more damage to S. alterniflora leaves. Despite higher nitrogen content, A. germinans leaves decomposed slower than S. alterniflora leaves, perhaps due to other leaf constituents or a different microbial community. Other studies have found the opposite in decomposition rates of the two species’ leaf tissue. This study provides insights into basic trophic process, herbivory and decomposition, at the initial stages of black mangrove colonization into S. alterniflora salt marsh.

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<![CDATA[Nutritional intake of Aplanochytrium (Labyrinthulea, Stramenopiles) from living diatoms revealed by culture experiments suggesting the new prey–predator interactions in the grazing food web of the marine ecosystem]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c3fa552d5eed0c484ca3048

Labyrinthuleans (Labyrinthulea, Stramenopiles) are recognized as decomposers in marine ecosystems but their nutrient sources are not fully understood. We conducted two-membered culture experiments with labyrinthuleans and diatoms to discover where labyrinthuleans obtain their nutrients from. The results showed that Aplanochytrium strains obtained nutrients by consuming living diatoms. Aplanochytrium cells did not release digestive enzymes into the medium, but adhered to diatom cells via the tip of their characteristic ectoplasmic net system to obtain nutrients from them. The chloroplast and cell contents of the diatoms shrank and were absorbed, and then the number of Aplanochytrium cells rapidly increased as multiple aplanospores were released. To estimate the effect of labyrinthulean organisms including Aplanochytrium on marine ecosystem, we explored the dataset generated by the Tara Oceans Project from a wide range of oceanic regions. The average proportion of all labyrinthulean sequences to diatom sequences at each station was about 10%, and labyrinthulids, oblongichytrids, and aplanochytrids were the major constituent genera, accounting for more than 80% of labyrinthuleans. Therefore, these groups are suggested to greatly affect the marine ecosystem. There were positive correlations between aplanochytrids and phototrophs, green algae, and diatoms. At many stations, relatively large proportions of aplanochytrid sequences were detected in the size fraction larger than their cell size. This implied that Aplanochytrium cells increased their particle size by adhering to each other and forming aggregates with diatoms that are captured by larger zooplankton in the environment, thereby bypassing the food web pathway via aplanochytrids to higher predators. The intake of nutrients from diatoms by aplanochytrids represents a newly recognized pathway in the grazing food chain in the marine ecosystem.

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<![CDATA[Mangroves in the Galapagos islands: Distribution and dynamics]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c3fa5bdd5eed0c484ca7fa4

Mangrove forests provide valuable coastal protection from erosion, habitat for terrestrial and marine species, nursery grounds for commercial fisheries and are economically important for tourism. Galapagos’ mangroves usually grow directly on solid lava and fragmented rocky shores, thereby stabilizing the sediment and facilitating colonisation by other plants and many animals. However, until very recently, only inaccurate data described mangrove coverage and its distribution. We mapped mangroves using freely available Google Earth Very High Resolution images based on on-screen classification and compared this method to three semi-automatic classification algorithms. We also analysed mangrove change for the period 2004–2014. We obtained an area of 3657.1 ha of fringing mangrove that covers 35% of the coastline. Eighty percent of mangrove cover is found in Isabela island, and 90% in the western and central south-eastern bioregions. The overall accuracy of mangrove classification was 99.1% with a Kappa coefficient of 0.97 when validated with field data. On-screen digitization was significantly more accurate than other tested methods. From the semi-automated methods, Maximum Likelihood Classification with prior land-sea segmentation yielded the best results. During the 2004–2014 period, mangrove coverage increased 24% mainly by expansion of existing mangroves patches as opposed to generation of new patches. We estimate that mangrove cover and growth are inversely proportional to the geological age of the islands. However, many other factors like nutrients, currents or wave exposure protection might explain this pattern. The precise localization of mangrove cover across the Galapagos islands now enables documenting whether it is changing over time.

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<![CDATA[Spatial variation in a top marine predator’s diet at two regionally distinct sites]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c3667d2d5eed0c4841a6577

In ecological studies it is often assumed that predator foraging strategies and resource use are geographically and seasonally homogeneous, resulting in relatively static trophic relationships. However, certain centrally placed foragers (e.g. seals) often have terrestrial sites for breeding, resting, and moulting that are geographically distinct, and associated with different habitat types. Therefore, accurate estimations of predator diet at relevant spatial and temporal scales are key to understanding energetic requirements, predator-prey interactions and ecosystem structure. We investigate geographic variation in the diet of grey seals (Halichoerus grypus), a relatively abundant and widely distributed central place forager, to provide insights into geographic variation in resource use. Prey composition was identified using scat samples collected over concurrent timescales and a multivariate approach was used to analyse diet from two contrasting habitats. Regional differences in prey assemblages occurred within all years (2011–2013) and all seasons (ANOSIM, all p<0.05), apart from in winter. Telemetry data were used to identify core foraging areas and habitats most likely associated with scat samples collected at the two haul-out sites. Regional differences in the diet appear to reflect regional differences in the physical habitat features, with seals foraging in deeper waters over sandy substrates showing a higher prevalence of pelagic and bentho-pelagic prey species such as blue whiting and sandeels. Conversely, seals foraging in comparatively shallow waters had a greater contribution of demersal and groundfish species such as cephalopods and flatfish in their diet. We suggest that shallower waters enable seals to spend more time foraging along the benthos while remaining within aerobic dive limits, resulting in more benthic species in the diet. In contrast, the diet of seals hauled-out in areas adjacent to deeper waters indicates that either seals engage in a more pelagic foraging strategy, or that seals can spend less time at the benthos, resulting in comparatively more pelagic prey recovered in the diet. The substantial differences in prey assemblages over a small spatial scale (<300 km) demonstrates the importance of using regionally-specific diet information in ecosystem-based models to better account for different trophic interactions.

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<![CDATA[Reproduction and population structure of the sea urchin Heliocidaris crassispina in its newly extended range: The Oga Peninsula in the Sea of Japan, northeastern Japan]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c36680ed5eed0c4841a6fa6

Ocean warming has facilitated the range expansion of commercially important sea urchin species to higher latitudes. Heliocidaris crassispina was recorded to extend northward to Toga Bay along the Oga Peninsula, Japan following an increase in seawater temperatures, and replacement of local sea urchin species Mesocentrotus nudus. In order to identify evidence of adaptation occurring in response to a range extension of H. crassispina to the newly extended environments, we randomly collected 106 H. crassispina in August 2014 in Toga Bay, determined the growth and age composition and examined gonad traits (size, color and development). To confirm the gonad development, 30 H. crassispina with > 30 mm diameter were collected in July, August and September 2017. We found slower growth in the extended range than the central range. More delayed gonad development of males than those of females and a large variety of developmental stages in the acini of testis indicated that the spawning of both sexes of the sea urchins were asynchronous. In terms of gonad color, L* (lightness) values increased with increasing GI, while b* (yellowness) values decreased with increasing age. The population consisted of seven year-classes from 2006 to 2012, suggesting persistent juvenile recruitment. Long-term water temperature data indicated that the range extension of H. crassispina was due to ocean warming, in particular during the summer spawning season.

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<![CDATA[Individual and combined effects of low dissolved oxygen and low pH on survival of early stage larval blue crabs, Callinectes sapidus]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c141eded5eed0c484d289a2

A large number of coastal ecosystems globally are subjected to concurrent hypoxic and acidified conditions that will likely intensify and expand with continued climate change. In temperate regions, the spawning of many important organisms including the Atlantic blue crab Callinectes sapidus occurs during the summer months when the severity of coastal hypoxia and acidification is the greatest. While the blue crab earliest larval stage can be exposed to co-occurring hypoxia and acidification observed in many coastal ecosystems, the effects of these concurrent stressors on larval blue crab survival is unknown. This study investigated the individual and combined consequences of low dissolved oxygen (DO) and low pH on blue crab larvae survival through a series of short-term experiments. During 14-day experiments with moderately hypoxic conditions (117–127 μM O2 or 3.74–4.06 mg L-1) and acidified conditions (pH on total scale of 7.16–7.33), low DO and low pH individually and significantly reduced larval survival by 60% and 49%, respectively, with the combination of stressors reducing survival by 87% compared to the control treatment (210–269 μM O2 or 6.72–8.61 mg L-1, 7.91–7.94 DO and pH, respectively). During 4-day experiments with lower DO levels (68–83 μM O2 or 2.18–2.62 mg L-1) and comparable pH levels of 7.29–7.39, low DO individually reduced survival by >90% compared to the control (261–267 μM O2 or 8.35–8.54 mg L-1, 7.92–7.97 DO and pH, respectively), whereas low pH had no effect and there was no interaction between stressors. Over a 4-day period, the DO threshold at which 50% of the larval blue crab population died (LC50) was 121 μM O2 (3.86 mgL-1). In 14-day experiments, the DO and pH effects were additive, yielding survival rates lower than the individual treatments, and significantly correlated with DO and pH concentrations. Collectively, these findings indicate that blue crab sensitivity to both low DO and low pH are acute within the larval stage, depend on the intensity and duration of exposure, and leads to mortality, thereby potentially contributing to the interannual variability and possible regional declines of this fishery.

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