Light Pollution Induces Increased Seabird Mortality

By Olivia Schuitema, SRC Intern Light pollution has increased fiercely over the last century, resulting in mass fatality events in seabirds, one of the most endangered groups of birds (Rodríguez, 2017). This phenomenon, called “grounding,” happens when land-based artificial lights attract seabirds to the shore, causing them to crash into human-built structures such as buildings and fences (Rodríguez, 2017). Once on land, the disoriented birds (Troy, 2013) are vulnerable to predation, starvation, and vehicle collisions, leading to the mass-mortality events. In reviewing current literature on the topic, data shows that twenty-four of the seabird species most likely to ground due … Continue reading

A right whale pootree: classification trees of faecal hormones identify reproductive states in North Atlantic right whales (Eubalaena glacialis)

By Brenna Bales, SRC Intern Faecal samples are a surprising wealth of information. One might think that the end product of digestion would not hold more information than simply what an animal has eaten, but in fact, animal excretions can give information about stress levels, sexual maturity, and physiological condition. In this analysis, 112 faecal samples of 81 individually identified North Atlantic right whales (NARW) (Eubalaena glacialis) were assayed for four hormone metabolites: cortisol (stress hormone), oestrogen (female sex hormone), testosterone (male sex hormone), and progesterone (female pregnancy hormone) (Corkeron et. al., 2017). The results were then used to classify … Continue reading

The Importance of Deep-Water Coral on the Antarctic Continental Shelf

By Sianna Raquel Vacca, SRC Intern Throughout history, both natural and man-made causes have resulted in long-lasting effects on the oceans. While most organic processes yield gradual change, the impact of human activity alters nature by prompting and accelerating otherwise irregular events (e.g. rapid ocean acidification, warming, habitat destruction), diminishing the oceans’ supply of pristine areas and ecosystems. A “pristine ecosystem” is defined as an area that has been either minimally affected or entirely untouched by human activity/influence. The depletion of these pristine areas impedes upon the ability to observe marine environments in their natural, undisturbed states. However, not all … Continue reading

The effects of elevated temperature and ocean acidification on the metabolic pathways of notothenioid fish

By Abby Tinari, SRC intern Notothenioid fish are typically found in the deep, cold waters of the Southern Ocean. Three species of fish native to the Ross Sea were studied to see how they may react to warmer and more acidic oceans. Methods To measure the effects of temperature on the fish, individuals were randomly selected and placed in one of the four experimental treatment tanks. The experimental tanks consisted of a control treatment, a low temperature and high pCO2, high temperature and low pCO2, and high temperature and high pCO2 to test the individual and overall effects of temperature … Continue reading

Dispersants: A Modern Method For Cleaning Up Oil Spills: Advantages and Disadvantages

By Nicole Suren, SRC intern In 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the depths of the Gulf of Mexico exploded, causing the release of approximately 500 thousand tons of crude oil into the ocean in the second largest oil spill in global history, commonly known as the BP oil spill (Fingas, 2013). This spurred constant media coverage of the spill itself, as well as the cleanup. Oil spill cleanup generally includes several main steps: first the spill is contained using booms, then oil is absorbed on a large scale and skimmed off the ocean surface using boats and large … Continue reading

How the geographic range characteristics of a species can affect its conservation

By Elana Rusnak, SRC intern For many of us scientists, our end goal is conservation of our target species. But what does this mean, and how do we reach these goals? Unfortunately, the answer to this question is not cookie-cutter and requires the input of multiple factors that are not so easily or frequently studied. At the largest scale, the two broad measurements of geographic range can either provide too much or too little area to be taken into account with regards to protecting a certain species: the extent of occurrence (EOO) and the area of occupancy (AOO). The area … Continue reading