Update from CEI’s Flats Ecology Research


So everyone has heard of climate change/global warming- increased anthropogenic CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere shifts annual global climate, which then leads to other catastrophic events within the Earth’s ecosphere. An increase in oceanic temperature and acidity is among the most pressing and readily apparent effects of climate change. Past research has shown fish of tropical reefs to be particularly sensitive to changes in ocean temperature and pH. In the flats department, we aim to determine whether common teleost occupants of tropical mangroves exhibit a similar sensitivity to such changes. Using bonefish (Albula spp.), checkered puffers (Sphoeroides tetudineus), juvenile yellowfin mojarra (Gerres cinereus), and juvenile yellowtail snapper (Ocyurus chrysurus), we aim to determine the Critical maximum and minimum temperature and pH at which each species looses equilibrium (“goes belly up”). With the help of visiting students from the Maine School of Science and Mathmatics, we have already determined the critical maximum temperature for puffers, mojarra, and snapper by observing behavior of test subjects while gradually increasing the ambient temperature. With our recently engineered water-cooling system, we plan on determining critical minimum temperature this week! Once completed this study will help us to predict the phenotypic plasticity of these mangrove species in response to rising oceanic temperatures and acidity.

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