This is an updated version of what has been one of our most read blog posts. There are new grants added, details updated and its now in date order so its easier to see which ones are close to submission date. It does have an Australian focus but there are some international ones as well, we hope to add to those down the track. Continue reading
This guest post is from Elliot Scanes, a PhD candidate from Western Sydney University who runs cool experiments to understand the impact of climate change on our molluscs. Elliot has a great Instagram research account with Dr Vicky Cole called seao2, so give them a follow to keep up to date with their work.
Ocean Acidification – The Ocean’s other problem with CO2
by Elliot Scanes
Humans are currently emitting CO2 faster than has occurred on Earth for millions of years. Currently, atmospheric CO2 concentrations are at their highest point in 800,000 years and don’t look like slowing any time soon. Inevitable global warming as a consequence of the excess CO2 and other pollutants causing the “greenhouse effect” is well established among scientists (despite what politicians might say). This warming of the earth will eventually also cause warming of the oceans, most notably affecting species ranges. But this is not the only way excess CO2 is going to change the world’s oceans. The oceans have already absorbed 40% of the CO2 emitted by humans, and will keep continuing to do so. As CO2 dissolves in seawater, it forms carbonic acid, which, in turn causes the oceans to acidify. So far, oceanic pH (the measure of acidity) has fallen 0.1 units, and is predicted to fall 0.3 – 0.4 pH units by 2100 unless drastic global action is taken to curb emissions.
This small decrease in pH may seem insignificant, however pH is measured on a natural logarithmic scale (for those mathematicians) which means that each unit is an order of magnitude larger than the previous. A 0.3 unit drop in pH means that calcium carbonate, the mineral that all shelled animals shells are composed of, is now soluble in seawater. Predictably, scientists are most concerned about the shelled animals of the ocean like molluscs, crustaceans and cnidarian (corals). Investigations by our lab at Western Sydney University have shown that under these scenarios Sydney rock oysters will have difficulty forming their shell, especially in their juvenile stages. These difficulties waste vital energy, which is especially important in an environment where you always need an edge on your competitor. Similar studies have found comparable effects in sea urchins, corals, scallops and almost every shelled animal in the ocean that you can think of. Continue reading
Recently whilst pottering around in the backyard I saw what I first thought was a ringtail possum in the undergrowth. That was until it scampered across the open yard at a pace a ringtail could only dream of attaining on the ground. It was the biggest rat I had ever seen and it seems to have taken up residence in the ponds (i.e. bathtubs and containers I have set-up for fish and frogs) in my yard.
Since then I have seen it regularly and it doesn’t look like the rats I usually see in the urban environment; it was huge at around 1.5 kg and it also had a fluffy tail tipped with white and a slightly golden underbelly. I’ve seen these guys before when fishing so after the first good look at it I knew it was a native water rat (also known as the rakali). That’s where my knowledge on the species ended. Continue reading
Wollongong University interviewed Matt and I recently and also used some of our underwater footage, if you are interested you can find the video and write up Here
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Receiving a small grant can make or break many honours and post-grads research. I’ve talked to a few honours students lately that needed funding for what I thought was interesting research but without funds their project couldn’t run. With that in mind I thought that I should share a list of grants I’ve had sitting on my hard drive (and that I will add to if I see useful grants down the track) that may help fund small projects. Continue reading
A quick post to give a bit of background on the PhD research I am carrying out at present, as always, questions, advice and constructive criticism is welcome.
The vast unknown: assessing the conservation of soft sediment fish diversity
Sand. That grainy stuff that covers vast swathes of the ocean floor. Although perhaps to the casual observer this habitat isn’t as exciting as coral reefs or seagrass meadows, delve a little deeper and you will discover that there is a whole lot happening out in the vast sandy stretches of the ocean. Sand or soft sediments cover most of Australia’s state and national waters and are heavily exploited by commercial and recreational fishing.
Surprisingly, there has been little research into fish ecology on these habitats, with most effort expended on assessing fish found on coral reefs, rocky reefs, estuaries and seagrass. For a habitat that is so heavily exploited, there is a serious and immediate need to determine the basic ecology of the fish species present, the effects of fishing and also to examine the success of conservation efforts in place. More than 70% of Australia’s marine protected areas cover soft sediments, yet to my knowledge, both nationally and internationally there have been no studies looking at the effectiveness of marine protected areas in conserving soft sediment fish.
My PhD aims to examine Continue reading