Tag: James Cook University

Climate: World’s biggest, oldest trees dying fast

Global trend concerns leading ecologists

Ancient Colorado lodgepole pines have been killed by pine beetles, Bob Berwyn photo.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Colorado ‘s old lodgepoles aren’t the only forest giants that are dying. Around the world, the biggest, oldest trees that harbor and sustain countless birds and other wildlife, are meeting the same fate.

Three of the world’s leading ecologists say they’ve documented an alarming increase in the death rate of trees between 100 and 300 years old in many of the world’s forests, woodlands, savannahs, farming areas and even in cities.

“It’s a worldwide problem and appears to be happening in most types of forest,” said lead author Professor David Lindenmayer, of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions and Australian National University. Continue reading “Climate: World’s biggest, oldest trees dying fast”


Environment: Grassroots conservation pays off in Fiji

This image from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on Aqua shows Fiji’s second-largest island, Vanua Levu, and the Cakaulevu Reef that shelters the island’s northern shore.

Local communities on the front line in marine protection

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Local grassroots efforts to protect marine habitat are paying off in Fiji, which is making progress toward the goal of protecting at least 30 percent of Fiji’s inshore habitats.

A new study by researchers from the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland, the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University, and the Wildlife Conservation Society outlined some of the successes — along with some of the remaining challenges.

“The results of the study are remarkable given that locally managed marine area networks in Fiji and the Western Pacific region are generally established only to meet local objectives, most notably to improve food security,” said Dr. Morena Mills, lead author of the paper. Continue reading “Environment: Grassroots conservation pays off in Fiji”

Global warming: New study tries to pin down the effects of ocean acidification on shellfish

New study tries to pinpoint impacts of ocean acidification on shellfish.

Cold-water species hit hardest by increased levels of carbon dioxide

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The effects of ocean acidification on shellfish are widespread around the globe and may be the most pronounced at high latitudes with low water temperatures, according to new research that examined a wide range of species from the tropics to the Arctic.

But there is some evidence that, with enough time, shellfish and other marine organisms may be able to adapt to the changes caused by global warming, according to the study published this week in the journal Global Change Biology.

“In areas of the world’s oceans where it is hardest for marine creatures to make their limestone shell or skeleton, shellfish and other animals have adapted to natural environments where seawater chemistry makes shell-building materials difficult to obtain,” said Dr .Sue-Ann Watson, formerly of the University of Southampton and British Antarctic Survey (now at James Cook University) said. “Evolution has allowed shellfish to exist in these areas and, given enough time and a slow enough rate of change, evolution may again help these animals survive in our acidifying oceans.” Continue reading “Global warming: New study tries to pin down the effects of ocean acidification on shellfish”

Large reef fish need table coral for shelter

A sweet lip takes shelter under a manmade structure in an Australian reef. PHOTO COURTESY JAMES KERRY.

Australian study sheds light on possible climate change impacts

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY— New studies from Australian researchers show that big reef fish like coral trout, snappers and sweetlips have clear preferences when it comes to choosing places to hang out.

The choices big fish make on where to shelter could have a major influence on their ability to cope with climate change, according to scientists from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University.

In research aimed at understanding the process of fish population decline when coral reefs sustain major damage, PhD student James Kerry and Professor David Bellwood have found that big fish show a marked preference for sheltering under large, flat table corals, as opposed to branching corals or massive corals (known as bommies). Continue reading “Large reef fish need table coral for shelter”

Global warming: Is CO2 driving fish crazy?


Researchers detect neural damage from dissolved carbon dioxide in the ocean

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Rising concentrations of carbon dioxide in the ocean may cause neural damage in fish, interfering with their ability to smell and participate in synchronized schooling maneuvers that make them less vulnerable to predators.

Along with documenting the way the fish reacted to higher CO2 levels, biologists were able to show that dissolved CO2 is directly damaging the fishes’ nervous systems.

“For several years our team have been testing the performance of baby coral fishes in sea water containing higher levels of dissolved CO2 – and it is now pretty clear that they sustain significant disruption to their central nervous system, which is likely to impair their chances of survival,” said professor Philip Munday, of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and James Cook University. Continue reading “Global warming: Is CO2 driving fish crazy?”

Biodiversity: New research confirms global shark declines

A whitetip reef shark. PHOTO COURTESY NOAA.

Study: ‘Widespread, substantial, and ongoing declines in the abundance of shark populations worldwide …’

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Australian researchers say they’ve developed a new way of accurately measuring shark populations, and the results show the ocean predators are in big trouble on the Great Barrier Reef and around the world.

“There is mounting evidence of widespread, substantial, and ongoing declines in the abundance of shark populations worldwide, coincident with marked rises in global shark catches in the last half-century,” said Mizue Hisano, Professor Sean Connolly and Dr. William Robbins from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and James Cook University.

“Overfishing of sharks is now recognized as a major global conservation concern, with increasing numbers of shark species added to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s list of threatened species,” they wrote in the latest issue of the international science journal PLos ONE. Continue reading “Biodiversity: New research confirms global shark declines”

Environment: Ocean acidification a ‘one-way’ experiment

Alpine Gardens underwrites Summit Voice science stories.


Clownfish may lose hearing, become vulnerable to predators as C02 levels rise

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Increasing acidification of the oceans is affecting sensory organs in fish and could make some marine species more vulnerable to predators.

Existing research shows that the CO2 in the oceans is causing some fish to lose their sense of smell. Now, a new experiment by University of Bristol scientists suggests clownfish could lose their sense of hearing as CO2 levels climb ever higher.

Since the Industrial Revolution, over half of all the CO2 produced by burning fossil fuels has been absorbed by the ocean, making pH drop faster than any time in the last 650,000 years and resulting in ocean acidification. Continue reading “Environment: Ocean acidification a ‘one-way’ experiment”