16 posts tagged ecology

26th June 2014
All mammals that currently inhabit New Zealand, other than three species of bats and two species of seals, are exotic and largely invasive. Two species, the Polynesian rat and domesticated dog, arrived with the Maori people approximately 1000 years ago, while 32 species arrived just over 200 years ago with European settlers. Many of these species, such as rabbits and stoats, were intentionally introduced with a specific benefit in mind (to make NZ feel more like home and to control the subsequent explosion of the rabbit population, respectively), but backfired terribly.
The result of so many invasive species in such a small nation has been serious destruction of the native (including a large number of endemic) species of flora and fauna, leading New Zealand to move some endemic species to offshore islands in order to protect them from invasive predators. All mammals that currently inhabit New Zealand, other than three species of bats and two species of seals, are exotic and largely invasive. Two species, the Polynesian rat and domesticated dog, arrived with the Maori people approximately 1000 years ago, while 32 species arrived just over 200 years ago with European settlers. Many of these species, such as rabbits and stoats, were intentionally introduced with a specific benefit in mind (to make NZ feel more like home and to control the subsequent explosion of the rabbit population, respectively), but backfired terribly.
The result of so many invasive species in such a small nation has been serious destruction of the native (including a large number of endemic) species of flora and fauna, leading New Zealand to move some endemic species to offshore islands in order to protect them from invasive predators. All mammals that currently inhabit New Zealand, other than three species of bats and two species of seals, are exotic and largely invasive. Two species, the Polynesian rat and domesticated dog, arrived with the Maori people approximately 1000 years ago, while 32 species arrived just over 200 years ago with European settlers. Many of these species, such as rabbits and stoats, were intentionally introduced with a specific benefit in mind (to make NZ feel more like home and to control the subsequent explosion of the rabbit population, respectively), but backfired terribly.
The result of so many invasive species in such a small nation has been serious destruction of the native (including a large number of endemic) species of flora and fauna, leading New Zealand to move some endemic species to offshore islands in order to protect them from invasive predators. All mammals that currently inhabit New Zealand, other than three species of bats and two species of seals, are exotic and largely invasive. Two species, the Polynesian rat and domesticated dog, arrived with the Maori people approximately 1000 years ago, while 32 species arrived just over 200 years ago with European settlers. Many of these species, such as rabbits and stoats, were intentionally introduced with a specific benefit in mind (to make NZ feel more like home and to control the subsequent explosion of the rabbit population, respectively), but backfired terribly.
The result of so many invasive species in such a small nation has been serious destruction of the native (including a large number of endemic) species of flora and fauna, leading New Zealand to move some endemic species to offshore islands in order to protect them from invasive predators.

All mammals that currently inhabit New Zealand, other than three species of bats and two species of seals, are exotic and largely invasive. Two species, the Polynesian rat and domesticated dog, arrived with the Maori people approximately 1000 years ago, while 32 species arrived just over 200 years ago with European settlers. Many of these species, such as rabbits and stoats, were intentionally introduced with a specific benefit in mind (to make NZ feel more like home and to control the subsequent explosion of the rabbit population, respectively), but backfired terribly.

The result of so many invasive species in such a small nation has been serious destruction of the native (including a large number of endemic) species of flora and fauna, leading New Zealand to move some endemic species to offshore islands in order to protect them from invasive predators.

29th January 2014
I call myself a troubled optimist. I’m hopeful for the future despite the recent past, in the sense that I believe that you owe a responsibility to your children your grandchildren and their children. That’s an important concept of the environmental movement that will always be there.

— Stewart Udall (January 31, 1920 – March 20, 2010)

22nd May 2013
Over the past decade, the problem of invasive species has become more pervasive in aquatic systems around the globe. With the continued warming of water bodies due to climate change, dangerous invasives can expand their ranges and invade established habitats.
A notable example of this is the Humboldt squid, also called the jumbo squid (Dosidicus gigas), moving all the way up the Pacific coast from Mexican waters to as far north as the coast of Vancouver Island. One of the most powerful ways the species disrupts the ecosystem is that it consumes tremendous amounts of prey. Humboldt squids grow to be over 1.5 m in length and an average of 50 kg (100 lbs) in under one year; this necessitates that the squid feeds constantly, which annihilates prey species in the Humboldt’s range. Because many of its prey items are economically important fishes, the expansion and actions of the Humboldt squid are being avidly monitored.
Photo © Brian Skerry

Over the past decade, the problem of invasive species has become more pervasive in aquatic systems around the globe. With the continued warming of water bodies due to climate change, dangerous invasives can expand their ranges and invade established habitats.

A notable example of this is the Humboldt squid, also called the jumbo squid (Dosidicus gigas), moving all the way up the Pacific coast from Mexican waters to as far north as the coast of Vancouver Island. One of the most powerful ways the species disrupts the ecosystem is that it consumes tremendous amounts of prey. Humboldt squids grow to be over 1.5 m in length and an average of 50 kg (100 lbs) in under one year; this necessitates that the squid feeds constantly, which annihilates prey species in the Humboldt’s range. Because many of its prey items are economically important fishes, the expansion and actions of the Humboldt squid are being avidly monitored.

Photo © Brian Skerry

11th October 2012
Good news for those of you who, similar to myself, have “discover a new species” on your bucket list:
To date, approximately 1.7 million species have been described. However, scientists estimate that there may be between 3 and 50 million species total! Even if we follow that conservative estimate of 3 million, that still means we’ve found only a little over half of the species with which we share this planet! Personally, I think that is SO COOL.Looking at that estimate of 50 million species total, scientists state that there may be 30 million species of insects. We’ve only discovered 571,000 species. That would mean there are FIFTY TIMES MORE types of insects on this planet than those we’ve already discovered.Studying for ecology is blowing my mind this morning. 

Good news for those of you who, similar to myself, have “discover a new species” on your bucket list:

To date, approximately 1.7 million species have been described. However, scientists estimate that there may be between 3 and 50 million species total! Even if we follow that conservative estimate of 3 million, that still means we’ve found only a little over half of the species with which we share this planet! Personally, I think that is SO COOL.
Looking at that estimate of 50 million species total, scientists state that there may be 30 million species of insects. We’ve only discovered 571,000 species. That would mean there are FIFTY TIMES MORE types of insects on this planet than those we’ve already discovered.
Studying for ecology is blowing my mind this morning. 

18th September 2012
Potato Grouper(Epinephelus tukula)Length: 2m (7ft) Weight: 110kg (240lbs) 
Groupers are large and important predators on coral reefs. They help to maintain the health of a reef by picking off weak fish. They also eat crabs and spiny  lobsters. The potato grouper inhabits deeper reef channels and seamounts. It has a large head and heavy body with a single long, spiny dorsal fin. Irregular dark streaks radiate from the eyes. These fish are territorial and in some areas, individuals are hand-fed by divers. However, one diver drowned after being rammed in the chest by a large potato grouper. The large size of these fish makes them an easy target for spearfishermen.
(Photo Sources 1 & 2)  Potato Grouper(Epinephelus tukula)Length: 2m (7ft) Weight: 110kg (240lbs) 
Groupers are large and important predators on coral reefs. They help to maintain the health of a reef by picking off weak fish. They also eat crabs and spiny  lobsters. The potato grouper inhabits deeper reef channels and seamounts. It has a large head and heavy body with a single long, spiny dorsal fin. Irregular dark streaks radiate from the eyes. These fish are territorial and in some areas, individuals are hand-fed by divers. However, one diver drowned after being rammed in the chest by a large potato grouper. The large size of these fish makes them an easy target for spearfishermen.
(Photo Sources 1 & 2) 

Potato Grouper
(Epinephelus tukula)
Length: 2m (7ft) Weight: 110kg (240lbs) 

Groupers are large and important predators on coral reefs. They help to maintain the health of a reef by picking off weak fish. They also eat crabs and spiny  lobsters. The potato grouper inhabits deeper reef channels and seamounts. It has a large head and heavy body with a single long, spiny dorsal fin. Irregular dark streaks radiate from the eyes. These fish are territorial and in some areas, individuals are hand-fed by divers. However, one diver drowned after being rammed in the chest by a large potato grouper. The large size of these fish makes them an easy target for spearfishermen.

(Photo Sources 1 & 2

28th August 2012
Much of the continental shelf is covered with deep sediments. Sand, gravel, and pebbles are deposited in shallow water, while find mud is carried into deeper water offshore. An important part of shelf sediments is biogenic (made from the remains of living organisms). It consists of carbonates derived from, for example, coral skeletons and microscopic plankton.
At first sight, sediment plains appear barren. However, many different animals live hidden beneath the surface, either permanently or emerging from burrows and tubes to feed and reproduce. Shifting sand and gravel is a difficult place to live, but more stable sediments occur on deeper sea beds. Varying particle size makes it suitable for constructing burrows and tubes, and it can contain huge numbers of animals, providing a rich food source. These animal communities are all sustained by plankton falling from the continental-shelf surface waters, and by the products of decomposition of seagrasses and seaweed.
Photo © Greg McFall

Much of the continental shelf is covered with deep sediments. Sand, gravel, and pebbles are deposited in shallow water, while find mud is carried into deeper water offshore. An important part of shelf sediments is biogenic (made from the remains of living organisms). It consists of carbonates derived from, for example, coral skeletons and microscopic plankton.

At first sight, sediment plains appear barren. However, many different animals live hidden beneath the surface, either permanently or emerging from burrows and tubes to feed and reproduce. Shifting sand and gravel is a difficult place to live, but more stable sediments occur on deeper sea beds. Varying particle size makes it suitable for constructing burrows and tubes, and it can contain huge numbers of animals, providing a rich food source. These animal communities are all sustained by plankton falling from the continental-shelf surface waters, and by the products of decomposition of seagrasses and seaweed.

Photo © Greg McFall

20th July 2012
Coral reefs are most well-known for their vibrant colors and vast biodiversity. However, not many people know that corals owe their bright rainbow of colors to symbiotic, single-cell algae that live inside their tissues. Reef corals have mainly colorless polyps and white skeletons—it is the tiny zooxanthellae living in their cells that gives the corals their color. They also manufacture organic matter that the coral uses as food. If stressed by disease or high temperatures, corals expel their zooxanthellae, in a process called coral bleaching, and may die of starvation.

Coral reefs are most well-known for their vibrant colors and vast biodiversity. However, not many people know that corals owe their bright rainbow of colors to symbiotic, single-cell algae that live inside their tissues. Reef corals have mainly colorless polyps and white skeletons—it is the tiny zooxanthellae living in their cells that gives the corals their color. They also manufacture organic matter that the coral uses as food. If stressed by disease or high temperatures, corals expel their zooxanthellae, in a process called coral bleaching, and may die of starvation.

3rd April 2012
Estuaries, like the one pictured, are remarkably important to the world for a variety of reasons:
1) Wildlife -• Estuaries are the most productive ecosystems on earth• Thousands of species depend on estuaries• Many commercial marine organisms depend on estuaries at some point in heir life• Estuaries work as nurseries for many marine organisms until they’re big enough to enter the open ocean• They’re home (half of the time) to migratory birds
2) Ecosystem Services -• They filtrate sediments and pollutants• They absorb flood water and dissipate storm surges• They prevent shoreline erosion
3) Cultural Benefits -• Recreation, scientific, educational, and aesthetic purposes• Economic benefits (such as: conduits for commerce and travel; 75% of America’s commercial fish catch; 80% - 90% of America’s recreational fish catch; estuary-dependent fishes are the nation’s most valuable; recreation and tourism generate tens of billions of dollars for local communities)

Estuaries, like the one pictured, are remarkably important to the world for a variety of reasons:

1) Wildlife -
• Estuaries are the most productive ecosystems on earth
• Thousands of species depend on estuaries
• Many commercial marine organisms depend on estuaries at some point in heir life
• Estuaries work as nurseries for many marine organisms until they’re big enough to enter the open ocean
• They’re home (half of the time) to migratory birds

2) Ecosystem Services -
• They filtrate sediments and pollutants
• They absorb flood water and dissipate storm surges
• They prevent shoreline erosion

3) Cultural Benefits -
• Recreation, scientific, educational, and aesthetic purposes
• Economic benefits (such as: conduits for commerce and travel; 75% of America’s commercial fish catch; 80% - 90% of America’s recreational fish catch; estuary-dependent fishes are the nation’s most valuable; recreation and tourism generate tens of billions of dollars for local communities)

18th March 2012
On a foray into the wilds of Staten Island in 2009, Jeremy A. Feinberg, a doctoral candidate in ecology and evolution at Rutgers University, heard something strange as he listened for the distinctive mating call of the southern leopard frog — usually a repetitive chuckle. But this was a single cluck.
“I started hearing these calls, and I realized they were really distinct,” Mr. Feinberg said.
Three years later, Mr. Feinberg and four other scientists who joined him in multiple field and laboratory studies, are finally comfortable making their declaration: a new species of leopard frog — as yet unnamed — has been identified in New York City and a number of surrounding counties.
(Read more)

On a foray into the wilds of Staten Island in 2009, Jeremy A. Feinberg, a doctoral candidate in ecology and evolution at Rutgers University, heard something strange as he listened for the distinctive mating call of the southern leopard frog — usually a repetitive chuckle. But this was a single cluck.

“I started hearing these calls, and I realized they were really distinct,” Mr. Feinberg said.

Three years later, Mr. Feinberg and four other scientists who joined him in multiple field and laboratory studies, are finally comfortable making their declaration: a new species of leopard frog — as yet unnamed — has been identified in New York City and a number of surrounding counties.

(Read more)

11th January 2012
Basking sharks (Cetorhinus maximus), are the world’s second-largest fish (whale sharks being the first). In summer, it swims open-mouthed at the surface, filtering out plankton. Every hour, the shark passes up to 395,000 gallons (1.5 million liters) of seawater through the huge gills that almost encircle its head.
My oceanography professor told me the gills on huge basking sharks are large enough for small humans to swim in and out of.
(Info from AMNH.)

Basking sharks (Cetorhinus maximus), are the world’s second-largest fish (whale sharks being the first). In summer, it swims open-mouthed at the surface, filtering out plankton. Every hour, the shark passes up to 395,000 gallons (1.5 million liters) of seawater through the huge gills that almost encircle its head.

My oceanography professor told me the gills on huge basking sharks are large enough for small humans to swim in and out of.

(Info from AMNH.)


I am Ashley, an incredibly introverted environmental enthusiast.
I'm studying to be a marine biologist.
I have a fierce love for all living things, a very broad sense of humor, and I'm likely too passionate for my own good.
Herein you'll find animals (especially creepy-crawlies), nature, science, art, some of my own photography, and occasionally a scattering of personal posts.
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I source all of my own posts unless it's my content, in which case I tag it "personal."
But that tag is littered with a bunch of other, boring things as well, so peruse with caution.

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