marine biodiversity

November 8, 2011

New survey method reveals more diversity on coral reefs

Nancy Knowlton

Using DNA barcoding for the first time to survey coral reefs, Nancy Knowlton (1999) and her colleagues have found much larger numbers of species living on coral reefs than previously estimated. Their findings suggest that the diversity of life on the world's coral reefs has been significantly under-detected by traditional surveys, which require more time and work to complete. As a quick, efficient method, DNA barcoding has "enormous potential for use in broad global surveys, allowing us to find out what is living in the ocean now, and to keep track of it in the future," Knowlton says.

August 18, 2011

Local engagement achieves surprising marine recovery

Enric Sala

photo credit: Octavio Aburto-Oropeza/iLCP

A research team including Enric Sala (2005) has documented a spectacular recovery of marine life in Cabo Pulmo National Park, an area previously depleted by fishing in the Gulf of California, Mexico. Local citizens established the marine reserve in 1995 and have strictly enforced its "no take" restrictions. Sala and his colleagues found a 463 percent increase in the total amount of fish in the reserve ecosystem from 1999 to 2009. This success is "greatly due to local leadership, effective self-enforcement by local stakeholders, and the general support of the broader community," the research team says.

October 18, 2010

Census of Marine Life ends

Gretchen Hofmann, Nancy Knowlton, Enric Sala

photo: Larry Madin, WHOI

The Census of Marine Life ended on October 4 after 10 years of work by researchers from 80 nations, including Nancy Knowlton (1999), Enric Sala (2005), and Gretchen Hofmann (2009). The census brought estimates of the total number of marine species from 230,000 to 250,000. Discoveries range from 600-year-old worms to hairy "yeti crabs" living miles below the ocean surface.

May 13, 2010

Asphalt volcanoes discovered off California coast

Christopher Reddy

photo: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Underwater "asphalt volcanoes" off the coast of Santa Barbara are documented in a new paper co-authored by Chris Reddy (2006). Seeping petroleum – not magma – formed these unusual volcanoes, which have been dormant for at least a millennium, although they periodically leak gas. Reddy hopes to continue research on the volcanoes, especially about marine life that lives in the asphalt.