DMS graduate students present at UConn’s 2nd Climate Research Symposium

On April 30th, four graduate students from the Marine Sciences Department traveled to UConn, Storrs to present their research at UConn’s 2nd Climate Research Symposium cohosted by the Geology and Marine Sciences departments. The students were Kelly McGarry (Ph.D student; top left), Halle Berger (Master’s student; top right), Sarah McCart (Master’s student; bottom left) and Alec Shub (Master’s student; bottom right). Everyone’s presentations were well received, and Sarah McCart even won the graduate student poster competition!

The event featured two keynote speakers; Professor Margaret Rubega of UConn, and Professor Tim Cronin of MIT. Professor Rubega talked about science communication and how the scientific community could better communicate their climate change research to non-scientists without using overbearing jargon and too many words. Professor Cronin gave a speech on his past research on the suppression of Arctic air formation with climate warming.

By Callie Concannon

2nd Climate Research Symposium

Long Island Sound Habitat Mapping website now available

A new website highlighting the Long Island Sound Habitat Mapping Initiative went live on Earth Day. The website provides information on the background and motivation for the mapping initiative, summaries of the field work conducted, interpretive story maps describing some of the results, links to data products and publications generated and multimedia links to images and video of at-sea operations that illustrate the beauty and complexity of the underwater habitats of the Sound.

DMS post-doctoral researcher Emma Cross publishes new brachiopod research

15 April 2019. Dr. Emma Cross from the Baumann Lab just published her latest paper about brachiopod resilience to future ocean acidification in Environmental Science & Technology. The project involved long-term culturing of a polar and a temperate brachiopod under future ocean acidification and warming conditions during Emma’s PhD-research with the British Antarctic Survey. Substantial shell dissolution posed a threat to both species under ocean acidification, with more extensive dissolution occurring in the polar species.

Unexpectedly, however, the authors also discovered that brachiopods thicken their shell from the inner shell surface when extensive dissolution occurs at the outer shell surface under ocean acidification. This important finding furthers our understanding how predicted vulnerable marine calcifiers might cope under future environmental change.


Cross-ES&T-Graphical-abstract


Cross, E. L., Harper, E. M. and Peck, L. S. 2019. Thicker shells compensate extensive dissolution in brachiopods under future ocean acidification. Environmental Science & Technology (published online March 29, 2019).

New publication of mercury levels in aquatic wildlife and the atmosphere

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17 April 2019. Rob Mason was a co-author of a recent publication in Science of the Total Environment (How closely do mercury trends in fish and other aquatic wildlife track those in the atmosphere? – Implications for evaluating the effectiveness of the Minamata Convention) that provided a review of the potential timescale and magnitude of response of fish in different ecosystems to changes in inputs of mercury to the atmosphere from anthropogenic activities. The paper is a synthesis of information gathered for the 2018 Global Mercury Assessment Report, published by the United Nations Environmental Program as part of the activities of the Minamata Convention on Mercury, a globally binding treaty that has been initiated to reduce anthropogenic mercury emissions to the biosphere.

Canadian Journal of Zoology publishes perspective on experimental OA research by DMS faculty

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15 April 2019. Today, the Canadian Journal of Zoology published a perspective on the progress and challenges of experimental ocean acidification research, written by Hannes last year as an extension of keynote lectures on this topic given at the Annual meeting of the Canadian Zoological Society (St. John’s, NL, Canada) and the Gordon Research Symposium (Waterville Valley, NH). The perspective takes stock of the progress achieved in the field over past two decades in four key areas, hoping to inspire particularly new researchers to the field to build on this foundation.

Abstract: Experimental studies assessing the potential impacts of ocean acidification on marine organisms have rapidly expanded and produced a wealth of empirical data over the past decade. This perspective examines four key areas of transfor- mative developments in experimental approaches: (1) methodological advances; (2) advances in elucidating physiological and molecular mechanisms behind observed CO2 effects; (3) recognition of short-term CO2 variability as a likely modifier of species sensitivities (Ocean Variability Hypothesis); and (4) consensus on the multistressor nature of marine climate change where effect interactions are still challenging to anticipate. No single experiment allows predicting the fate of future populations. But sustaining the accumulation of empirical evidence is critical for more robust estimates of species reaction norms and thus for enabling better modeling approaches. Moreover, advanced experimental approaches are needed to address knowledge gaps including changes in species interactions and intraspecific variability in sensitivity and its importance for the adaptation potential of marine organisms to a high CO2 world.
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Illustration of the Ocean Variability Hypothesis positing that the CO2 sensitivity of marine organisms is related to the magnitude of short-term CO2 fluctuations in their habitat (e.g., from nearshore to open ocean) and length of their early life stage durations. It suggests that the most CO2 tolerant marine organisms are those that develop fast and (or) in habitats with large contemporary CO2 fluctuations, whereas the potentially most vulnerable species are those that develop slowly in relatively stable open-ocean habitats.

Grad students Sean Ryan and Halle Berger win awards at 2019 Benthic Ecology Meeting

Graduate students Sean Ryan and Halle Berger received Honourable Mention awards (top 10 graduate student presentations) for their presentations at the 2019 Benthic Ecology Meeting in St. John’s Newfoundland. Halle Berger, co-advised by Profs. Samantha Siedlecki and Catherine Matassa, was awarded for her interdisciplinary talk “Using regional oceanographic forecasts to assess the vulnerability of the Dungeness crab to climate change stressors.” Sean Ryan (advisor Catherine Matassa) was awarded for his poster “Induced herbivore resistance varies with latitude in the rockweed Fucus vesiculosus.” Sean and Halle were among ~180 student presenters at the meeting. Congratulations on your accomplishments, Halle and Sean!

New hydrothermal scavenging paper published in EPSL

The Lund lab recently published a paper in Earth and Planetary Science Letters on hydrothermal scavenging of trace metals at the East Pacific Rise. The results suggest that 230Th, a radionuclide commonly used to constrain sediment accumulation rates on the seafloor, is highly sensitive to changes in hydrothermal output, with important implications for the use of 230Th in paleoclimate and geochemical studies (https://davidlund.wixsite.com/averypointpaleo/page4).

Citizen science shows that climate change is rapidly reshaping Long Island Sound

21 March 2019. Marine Environmental Research just published a study about long-term ecological change in eastern Long Island Sound based on data collected by Project Oceanology! This non-profit ocean literacy organization has educated middle and high school students on boat trips to nearby estuarine sites for decades. For the first time, the digitization of these data allowed their quantitative evaluation, offering insights into the abiotic and biotic changes in nearshore waters of Eastern Long Island Sound.

Highlights

    • Citizen-science observations revealed rapid warming, acidification, and dissolved oxygen loss over the past 40 years in eastern Long Island Sound
    • Otter trawl catches showed significant decreases in overall species diversity and richness
    • Cold-water adapted species (American lobster, winter flounder) decreased, but warm-water adapted species (spider crabs) increased since 1997

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Undergraduate Students Unravel Challenges to Predicting Zooplankton Vulnerability to Warming

Mentored by Professor Hans Dam and Ph.D. student Matthew Sasaki, Undergraduate students Sydney Hedberg and Kailin Richardson (participants in the UConn-Mystic Aquarium Research-Experience-for-Undergraduates Program, http://www.mysticaquarium.org/reu/) carried out experiments that yield important insights into how zooplankton respond to warming. The results of the work are now published in the journal Royal Society Open Science (https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rsos.182115). The research shows that predicting the vulnerability of populations to global warming involves complex interactions between evolutionary adaptation, phenotypic plasticity, and sex (females rule !). The paper has two important implications. Surprisingly, tropical populations are more at risk because animals are already living near their thermal limits. In addition, because of the low survival of males, populations facing warming may be limited by the ability of males to fertilize females.

Sydney-and-Kailin

Photos by Hans Dam