Free Newsletters - Space - Defense - Environment - Energy - Solar - Nuclear
..
. Earth Science News .




WATER WORLD
Tiny Grazers Play Key Role in Marine Ecosystem Health
by Staff Writers
Washington DC (SPX) Apr 05, 2013


Gammarus mucronatus, an amphipod grazer that can promote healthy eelgrass beds. Copyrighted photo courtesy of Matthew Whalen/UC Davis.

Tiny sea creatures no bigger than a thumbtack are being credited for playing a key role in helping provide healthy habitats for many kinds of seafood, according to a new study by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and U.S. Geological Survey.

The little crustacean "grazers," some resembling tiny shrimp, are critical in protecting seagrasses from overgrowth by algae, helping keep these aquatic havens healthy for native and economically important species. Crustaceans are tiny to very large shelled animals that include crab, shrimp, and lobster.

The researchers found that these plant-eating animals feast on the nuisance algae that grow on seagrass, ultimately helping maintain the seagrass that provides nurseries for seafood. The grazers also serve as food themselves for animals higher on the food chain.

Drifting seaweed, usually thought of as a nuisance, also plays a part in this process, providing an important habitat for the grazing animals that keep the seagrass clean.

"Inconspicuous creatures often play big roles in supporting productive ecosystems," said Matt Whalen, the study's lead author who conducted this work while at VIMS and is now at the University of California, Davis.

"Think of how vital honeybees are for pollinating tree crops or what our soils would look like if we did not have earthworms. In seagrass systems, tiny grazers promote healthy seagrasses by ensuring algae is quickly consumed rather than overgrowing the seagrass. And by providing additional refuge from predators, fleshy seaweeds that drift in and out of seagrass beds can maintain larger grazer populations and enhance their positive impact on seagrass."

USGS scientist Jim Grace, a study coauthor, emphasized that seagrass habitats are also quite beneficial to people.

"Not only do these areas serve as nurseries for commercially important fish and shellfish, such as blue crabs, red drum, and some Pacific rockfish, but they also help clean our water and buffer our coastal communities by providing shoreline protection from storms," Grace said.

"These tiny animals, by going about their daily business of grazing, are integral to keeping healthy seagrass beds healthy."

In fact, the authors wrote, if not for the algal munching of these grazers, algae could blanket the seagrasses, blocking out sunlight and preventing them from photosynthesizing, which would ultimately kill the seagrasses. Seagrass declines in some areas are attributed partly to excessive nutrients in water bodies stimulating excessive algal growth on seagrasses.

"Coastal managers have been concerned for years about excess fertilizer and sediment loads that hurt seagrasses," said J. Emmett Duffy of Virginia Institute of Marine Science and coauthor of the study.

"Our results provide convincing field evidence that grazing by small animals can be just as important as good water quality in preventing nuisance algae blooms and keeping seagrass beds healthy."

The USGS scientists involved in this study serve as members of a worldwide consortium of researchers examining the health of seagrasses. This research by Virginia Institute of Marine Science and USGS researchers is the first in a series of studies worldwide on seagrass ecosystems. The study, "Temporal shifts in top-down versus bottom-up control of epiphytic algae in a seagrass ecosystem," was published in the recent issue of Ecology, a journal by the Ecological Society of America.

.


Related Links
USGS
Water News - Science, Technology and Politics






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





WATER WORLD
'A better path' toward projecting, planning for rising seas on a warmer Earth
Princeton NJ (SPX) Apr 04, 2013
More useful projections of sea level are possible despite substantial uncertainty about the future behavior of massive ice sheets, according to Princeton University researchers. In two recent papers in the journals Nature Climate Change and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the researchers present a probabilistic assessment of the Antarctic contribution to 21st-ce ... read more


WATER WORLD
Fukushima fuel cooling system stops again:TEPCO

Environmental policies matter for growing megacities

Finland's Fennovoima in talks with Rosatom over reactor

US drivers talk and text as much as ever

WATER WORLD
Michigan Tech researcher slashes optics laboratory costs

CO2 could produce valuable chemical cheaply

Catalyst in a teacup: New approach to chemical reduction

Lasers could yield particle research tool

WATER WORLD
Chinese foreign fisheries catch 12 times more than reported

Shark tooth weapons reveal missing shark species in Central Pacific islands

Tiny Grazers Play Key Role in Marine Ecosystem Health

'A better path' toward projecting, planning for rising seas on a warmer Earth

WATER WORLD
New models predict drastically greener Arctic in coming decades

Ice cores preserve 1,800 years of climate

2013 Wintertime Arctic Sea Ice Maximum Fifth Lowest on Record

Thin clouds drove Greenland's record-breaking 2012 ice melt

WATER WORLD
Shanghai stops poultry trade on bird flu fears

Organic Labels Bias Consumers Perceptions through the "Health halo effect"

Gene discovery may yield lettuce that will sprout in hot weather

UGA researchers track down gene responsible for short stature of dwarf pearl millet

WATER WORLD
Italy marks fourth anniversary of L'Aquila quake

7.1-magnitude quake causes panic in Indonesia's Papua

Quake shakes buildings in Manila

Toll climbs to 59 in deadly Argentina flooding

WATER WORLD
Congolese pygmy seeks to enlighten his kin

Guinea-Bissau ex-navy chief held on US drug charges

S.Africa pulls troops from C.Africa after deadly firefight

Dutchman arrested in Guinea-Bissau for coup 'misinformation'

WATER WORLD
Scientists identify brain's 'molecular memory switch'

Researchers successfully map fountain of youth

First evidence of Neanderthal/human mix

Urban vegetation deters crime in Philadelphia




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement