Help support marine biology SciFund projects!

scifundThanks for everyone who has donated to my SciFund Challenge shark feeding ecology project so far! Though I have surpassed my minimum funding goal of $3,000, I am still able to receive additional funds and all will be used for sample analysis fees. The offer to join us for a day of shark research still stands.

There are also other marine biology projects involved in the SciFund Challenge that need your support! A brief description of some (provided by the lead scientist on each project) is below, along with a link to learn more and donate.

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#SciFund Returns: Where have all the coral reef fish gone?

#SciFund, a month long initiative to raise funds for a variety of scientific research projects, is once again upon us. Project leaders post a project description and an appeal for funds, and members of the public are invited to make small donations to projects that they deem worthy. Donations come with rewards such as access to project logs, images from fieldwork, your name in the acknowledgements of publications, among other possibilities. Many of these projects are marine or conservation themed. Once again, we’re highlighting some of our favorite marine science proposals. Please take a look at these projects and, should you so desire, send some financial support their way. If you do make a donation, let them know how you found out about their project and leave a comment (anonymous if you’d like) on this post letting us know.


Where have all the coral reef fish gone?

Coral reefs are one of the most threatened ecosystems world wide. This project collects critical data for the Kenya Wildlife Service to promote effective coral reef conservation and management of marine protected areas.

Reefs protect shorelines and prevent erosion of coastal properties and  provide food and income to over 100 million people worldwide. Overfishing strongly contributes to the loss of reefs. Reef loss in turn, contributes to loss of biodiversity, economic decline, coastal destabilization, and loss of other nearshore habitats such as mangroves and seagrass beds.

Marine protected areas (MPAs) are one of the major ways by which we can protect coral reefs.  MPAs allow fished populations to recover and protect the corals that build reef structure. Kenya is one of the four African nations (and one of the few developing nations worldwide) that has established and maintained MPAs where fishing has been excluded

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Dr. Jennifer O’Leary is tracking triggerfish in Kenyan Marine Protected Areas to assess the effect of overfishing on the recovery of coral reefs within the MPA. Head on over to Dr. O’Leary’s project page and send some rocket fuel her way!

#SciFund Returns: Can an abalone in a bag save two on the reef?

#SciFund, a month long initiative to raise funds for a variety of scientific research projects, is once again upon us. Project leaders post a project description and an appeal for funds, and members of the public are invited to make small donations to projects that they deem worthy. Donations come with rewards such as access to project logs, images from fieldwork, your name in the acknowledgements of publications, among other possibilities. Many of these projects are marine or conservation themed. Once again, we’re highlighting some of our favorite marine science proposals. Please take a look at these projects and, should you so desire, send some financial support their way. If you do make a donation, let them know how you found out about their project and leave a comment (anonymous if you’d like) on this post letting us know.


Can an abalone in a bag save two on the reef?

The headlines paint a grim picture. The good news is that we have seen well-designed fishing practices begin to reverse the trend of fishery collapse. But what happens when these fish are also vulnerable to catastrophic disease?

Abundant abalone populations supported the iconic California abalone fishery throughout much of the 20th century. Unfortunately, this fishery began a period of sharp decline in the 1970s as abalone populations became increasingly depleted due to overfishing. Making matters even worse, a fatal bacterial disease known as withering syndrome (WS) emerged in the mid-1980s, devastating the remaining abalone populations that managed to escape heavy fishing pressure. After decades of declining catches due to overfishing, it was the disease that finally led to the closure of the southern California abalone fishery in 1996. The fishery closure was a tragedy, not only for the divers who lost their livelihood and lifestyle, but for California’s coastal communities whose natural heritage was lost and resource managers whose fishery management efforts had failed.

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Here’s a fascinating question: Since fishing reduces population density, and lower population density reduces disease transmission, can targetted fishing of abalone be used to control the spread of abalone withering syndrome? That is exactly what graduate student Tal Ben-Horin wants to answer with this #SciFund proposal. Head on over to Tal’s project page and send some rocket fuel his way! 

#SciFund Returns – A Climate for Castrators?

#SciFund, a month long initiative to raise funds for a variety of scientific research projects, is once again upon us. Project leaders post a project description and an appeal for funds, and members of the public are invited to make small donations to projects that they deem worthy. Donations come with rewards such as access to project logs, images from fieldwork, your name in the acknowledgements of publications, among other possibilities. Many of these projects are marine or conservation themed. Once again, we’re highlighting some of our favorite marine science proposals. Please take a look at these projects and, should you so desire, send some financial support their way. If you do make a donation, let them know how you found out about their project and leave a comment (anonymous if you’d like) on this post letting us know.


A Climate for Castrators?

If you were a crab in the ocean, your biggest fear would likely be the parasite I study. This parasite can invade crabs bodies and basically take over, using the crab as a baby parasite-producing machine. Female crabs are particularly suited for this as their bodies are already set up with a special space to keep babies (normally for crab eggs).

BUT, that doesn’t mean that male crabs are safe. If the parasite happens to get into a male crab it just makes it into a female! Literally changing the shape of the crab’s body so that the male can now hold parasite babies. Being infected by these parasites leads to complete castration. Not only are the crabs producing parasite babies, they can no longer produce their own offspring. As such, my lab-mates and I have dubbed it “the Neuterator” (the parasites scientific name is Loxothylacus panopeus).

Now, imagine if this parasite hasn’t always been around? Imagine, say, if this was an invasive parasite that just showed up in the water one day? In the oyster reefs in Georiga that is exactly what happened.The Neuterator showed up and started infecting mud crabs (their scientific name is Eurypanopeus depressus) around 2004. Right now, I find around 40% of these mud crabs infected in the reefs around Savannah.

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Climate change, parasitic castration, parasite driven sex change? What’s not to love? This project, led by PhD student Alyssa Gehman will look at the roll environment plays in host parasite interactions. Head on over to Alyssa’s project page and send some rocket fuel her way!

#SciFund Returns: Coping with stress: Coral reefs in Kiribati

#SciFund, a month long initiative to raise funds for a variety of scientific research projects, is once again upon us. Project leaders post a project description and an appeal for funds, and members of the public are invited to make small donations to projects that they deem worthy. Donations come with rewards such as access to project logs, images from fieldwork, your name in the acknowledgements of publications, among other possibilities. Many of these projects are marine or conservation themed. Once again, we’re highlighting some of our favorite marine science proposals. Please take a look at these projects and, should you so desire, send some financial support their way. If you do make a donation, let them know how you found out about their project and leave a comment (anonymous if you’d like) on this post letting us know.


Coping with stress: Coral reefs in Kiribati

Corals, the animals that famously build reefs get most of their energy, and most of their colour, from microscopic algae that live inside the coral tissue. This unique arrangement, however, is very sensitive to the surroundings. When the water gets too hot, the corals expel or consume the algae, and literally turn white. If the hot water persists, this “bleaching” process can effectively starve corals to death. The long-term survival of coral reefs will depend on the ability of corals to deal with increasing heat stress.

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Dr. Simon Donner’s research focuses on “climate change and coral bleaching, the El Nino phenomenon, climate change adaptation in the Pacific Islands, and obstacles to public education about climate change”. Funding for this project will all be spent in Kiribati, one of the coolest island nations. Head on over to Simon’s project page and send some rocket fuel his way!