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  • Mexican marine biologist works to save great white sharks

    17.08.2017 |  A Mexican marine biologist is using his new book to spread the message for protection of great white sharks, an animal that he contends is nearly perfect."When we see a white shark, we shouldn't think we're at the gates of Hell, we're dealing with one of the most perfect creatures in the whole world," Edgar Mauricio Hoyos said on Wednesday.Hoyos used the launch of his book, "El gran tiburon blanco, protector de los oceanos" (The Great White Shark, Protector of the Oceans), at a museum here to educate the public about the great whites, noting that the huge predators do not eat humans.The marine biologist, who has spent 14 years studying great white sharks at Isla de Guadalupe, located off the coast of Baja California, makes the case for protecting the creature in his plainly written 119-page book.Great white sharks, which have been around since before the dinosaurs, visit Isla de Guadalupe each year between August and February, feeding on fish, sea lions and dead whales, maintaining balance in the marine ecosystem, Hoyos said.Great white sharks are threatened by fishermen, who can get up to $50,000 for the animals' fins and jaws.Shark fins, especially those of great whites, are prized as a delicacy in Asia.

  • US biologists discover three new toad species

    24.07.2017 | US biologists have discovered three new species of toads living in Nevada's Great Basin in an expansive survey of the 190,000 square miles ancient lake bottom.The discoveries, detailed in a paper published in science journal, are extremely rare in the US. "We've found the toads in small, wet habitats surrounded by high-desert completely cut off from other populations," Dick Tracy, lead scientist on the project, said in a statement."These are absolutely new, true species that have been separated from other populations for 650,000 years," said the renowned biology professor at the University of Nevada, Reno.Since 1985, only three new frog species have been discovered and toad species are even more rare, with the last species discovered north of Mexico, the now extinct Wyoming toad, in 1968.The three new discovered species, the Dixie Valley toad, Railroad Valley toad and Hot Creek toad are not connected geographically. They were found in Tracy's 10-year long survey of the desert-dominated Great Basin.Researchers used 30 "shape" metrics and DNA studies to analyse these toads' characteristics to determine if each were distinguishable from the closely related Western toad, found throughout Western US. 

  • Tourists cheer as rain brings down mercury in Himachal

    30.04.2017 |  Rains brought down mercury in Himachal Pradesh on Sunday, bringing cheers to thousands of tourists who have thronged the hill stations to escape the heat wave in the northern plains. Higher reaches saw mild snow.Shimla recorded a maximum temperature of 20 degrees Celsius with a rainfall of 6.3 mm. The weather department has forecast more thundershowers in the state till Monday.Nearby areas also experienced rain. "Most of the areas in the state saw rain, bringing the temperatures down considerably. Higher reaches got mild spells of snow too," a weatherman told .Kalpa in Kinnaur district recorded a temperature of 10.4 degrees Celsius, while it was 34.2 degrees Celsius at Una town. The day temperature at Dharamsala town stood at 26.6 degrees Celsius.Keylong, the headquarters of Lahaul-Spiti, recorded three cm of snow."What a pleasant relief in Shimla," said Rohit Gandhi, a tourist from Delhi.

  • World's first fluorescent frog discovered in South America

    14.03.2017 | The worlds first fluorescent frog has been discovered in the Amazon basin in Argentina, a media report said on Tuesday.Scientists at the Bernardino Rivadavia Natural Sciences Museum in Buenos Aires made the discovery by accident while studying the pigment of polka-dot tree frogs, a species common to the rainforest, the Guardian said in the report.In normal light the frog appears to have a dull, mottled brown-green skin with red dots, but under UV light it glows a bright fluorescent green.Fluorescence -- the ability to absorb light at short wavelengths and re-emit it at longer wavelengths -- is uncommon in creatures that live on land.The translucent frog was found to use a combination of lymph and glandular emissions to fluoresce.The researchers, who published their discovery on Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that the trait enhanced the brightness of the frog by 19-29 per cent depending on the level of ambient light in its surroundings, the daily said.The compound causing the blue-green glow of the polka-dot tree frog was not previously thought to exist in vertebrates and its discovery has excited researchers."This is very different from fluorophores found in other vertebrates, which are usually proteins or polyenic chains," Maria Gabriella Lagoria, a photochemist at the University of Buenos Aires and study co-author, told Chemistry World.The discovery opens up the possibility that other amphibians may be able to fluoresce, particularly those with translucent skin similar to that of the tree frog.Speaking to the journal Nature, which first published news of the fluorescent frog, co-author Julian Faivovich expressed his hope that the discovery would inspire interest in the phenomenon, saying he hoped scientists would "start carrying a UV flashlight to the field".

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  • Mexican marine biologist works to save great white sharks
    Mexican marine biologist works to save great white sharks

    17.08.2017 | A Mexican marine biologist is using his new book to spread the message for protection of great white sharks, an animal that he contends is nearly perfect."When we see a white shark, we shouldn't think we're at the gates of Hell, we're dealing with one of the most perfect creatures in the whole world," Edgar Mauricio Hoyos said on Wednesday.Hoyos used the launch of his book, "El gran tiburon blanco, protector de los oceanos" (The Great White Shark, Protector of the Oceans), at a museum here to educate the public about the great whites, noting that the huge predators do not eat humans.The marine biologist, who has spent 14 years studying great white sharks at Isla de Guadalupe, located off the coast of Baja California, makes the case for protecting the creature in his plainly written 119-page book.Great white sharks, which have been around since before the dinosaurs, visit Isla de Guadalupe each year between August and February, feeding on fish, sea lions and dead whales, maintaining balance in the marine ecosystem, Hoyos said.Great white sharks are threatened by fishermen, who can get up to $50,000 for the animals' fins and jaws.Shark fins, especially those of great whites, are prized as a delicacy in Asia.

  • US biologists discover three new toad species
    US biologists discover three new toad species

    24.07.2017 |US biologists have discovered three new species of toads living in Nevada's Great Basin in an expansive survey of the 190,000 square miles ancient lake bottom.The discoveries, detailed in a paper published in science journal, are extremely rare in the US. "We've found the toads in small, wet habitats surrounded by high-desert completely cut off from other populations," Dick Tracy, lead scientist on the project, said in a statement."These are absolutely new, true species that have been separated from other populations for 650,000 years," said the renowned biology professor at the University of Nevada, Reno.Since 1985, only three new frog species have been discovered and toad species are even more rare, with the last species discovered north of Mexico, the now extinct Wyoming toad, in 1968.The three new discovered species, the Dixie Valley toad, Railroad Valley toad and Hot Creek toad are not connected geographically. They were found in Tracy's 10-year long survey of the desert-dominated Great Basin.Researchers used 30 "shape" metrics and DNA studies to analyse these toads' characteristics to determine if each were distinguishable from the closely related Western toad, found throughout Western US. 

  • Tourists cheer as rain brings down mercury in Himachal
    Tourists cheer as rain brings down mercury in Himachal

    30.04.2017 | Rains brought down mercury in Himachal Pradesh on Sunday, bringing cheers to thousands of tourists who have thronged the hill stations to escape the heat wave in the northern plains. Higher reaches saw mild snow.Shimla recorded a maximum temperature of 20 degrees Celsius with a rainfall of 6.3 mm. The weather department has forecast more thundershowers in the state till Monday.Nearby areas also experienced rain. "Most of the areas in the state saw rain, bringing the temperatures down considerably. Higher reaches got mild spells of snow too," a weatherman told .Kalpa in Kinnaur district recorded a temperature of 10.4 degrees Celsius, while it was 34.2 degrees Celsius at Una town. The day temperature at Dharamsala town stood at 26.6 degrees Celsius.Keylong, the headquarters of Lahaul-Spiti, recorded three cm of snow."What a pleasant relief in Shimla," said Rohit Gandhi, a tourist from Delhi.

  • World's first fluorescent frog discovered in South America
    World's first fluorescent frog discovered in South America

    14.03.2017 |The worlds first fluorescent frog has been discovered in the Amazon basin in Argentina, a media report said on Tuesday.Scientists at the Bernardino Rivadavia Natural Sciences Museum in Buenos Aires made the discovery by accident while studying the pigment of polka-dot tree frogs, a species common to the rainforest, the Guardian said in the report.In normal light the frog appears to have a dull, mottled brown-green skin with red dots, but under UV light it glows a bright fluorescent green.Fluorescence -- the ability to absorb light at short wavelengths and re-emit it at longer wavelengths -- is uncommon in creatures that live on land.The translucent frog was found to use a combination of lymph and glandular emissions to fluoresce.The researchers, who published their discovery on Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that the trait enhanced the brightness of the frog by 19-29 per cent depending on the level of ambient light in its surroundings, the daily said.The compound causing the blue-green glow of the polka-dot tree frog was not previously thought to exist in vertebrates and its discovery has excited researchers."This is very different from fluorophores found in other vertebrates, which are usually proteins or polyenic chains," Maria Gabriella Lagoria, a photochemist at the University of Buenos Aires and study co-author, told Chemistry World.The discovery opens up the possibility that other amphibians may be able to fluoresce, particularly those with translucent skin similar to that of the tree frog.Speaking to the journal Nature, which first published news of the fluorescent frog, co-author Julian Faivovich expressed his hope that the discovery would inspire interest in the phenomenon, saying he hoped scientists would "start carrying a UV flashlight to the field".

  • Kerala's 'Responsible Tourism' a model initiative: UNWTO
    Kerala's 'Responsible Tourism' a model initiative: UNWTO

    04.02.2017 |The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has said Kerala's award-winning "Responsible Tourism" initiative is a model for other tourist destinations to replicate.According to the Kerala Tourism Department, UNWTO has commended the work done by the state and is impressed by its model of responsible and sustainable tourism.UNWTO Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific, Xu Jing, congratulated Kerala for the its success."The projects can be included as part of UNWTO's global programmes and the report can be a case study for other destinations. We are eager to strengthen our relationship and discuss matters of common interest," Jing was quoted as saying in a statement issued by the state Tourism Department.The UNWTO also invited Kerala Tourism to make a presentation at the Joint Commission Meeting to be held in Bangladesh in May and also at the UNWTO's International Conference on Tourism Statistics to be held in Manila from June 21 to 24.Kerala Tourism Director, U.V. Jose, presented the report on the Responsible Tourism campaigns at the UNWTO headquarters in Madrid.The report included details of Responsible Tourism policies and practices implemented in the state and the campaign's success.It said the initiative has empowered the local communities economically through activities that prioritise cultural and ecological conservation.

  • Registration for Kailash Manasarovar Yatra begins
    Registration for Kailash Manasarovar Yatra begins

    02.02.2017 | Registration for the Kailash Manasarovar Yatra commenced on Wednesday, the External Affairs Ministry which organises the annual pilgrimage said on Wednesday.According to a ministry statement, this year the Yatra is scheduled for the period June 12-September 8 through two routes. Applicants for this Yatra must be at least 18 years and not more than 70 years as on January 1, 2017, to be eligible to apply. The last date for registration is March 15, 2017.Stating that there are two routes for the Yatra, it said the route through Lipulekh Pass in Uttarakhand, which involves some trekking, is estimated to cost about Rs 1,60,000 per person and will be conducted in 18 batches of 60 pilgrims each. "The duration of the Yatra is 24 days for each batch including three days in Delhi for preparatory work," the statement said. "This route passes through important sites like Narayan Ashram, Patal Bhuvaneshwar. Yatris can also see the scenic beauty of Chialekh Valley, or the ‘Om Parvat' which has the natural occurrence of snow in the shape of ‘Om' on this mountain." The second route through Nathu La Pass (Sikkim) is motorable and suitable for senior citizens unable to undertake arduous trekking. From Gangtok the route passes through scenic places like Hangu lake, and through the vast landscape of the Tibetan plateau. It is estimated to cost about Rs 200,000 per person, and the duration would be 21 days including three days in Delhi for preparatory work. This year eight batches of 50 pilgrims each are scheduled for this route."As in previous years, first time applicants, medical doctors, and married couples would have priority," the statement said. "Senior citizens would have priority on the Nathu La route if they opt for it. Four persons may apply and undertake the Yatra together, subject to conditions. Yatris can select both routes indicating priority or select only one of the routes. They will be allotted a route and batch through computerised draw of lots."

  • China see surge in tourist numbers
    China see surge in tourist numbers

    28.01.2017 |China witnessed a surge in tourist numbers on Friday, the first day of the week-long Lunar New Year holiday, official data showed on Saturday.The number of tourists jumped 10.4 per cent year on year to 50.5 million,  news agency said. Tourist-generated income climbed to 59 billion yuan (around 8.67 billion US dollars), up 13.3 per cent from one year earlier, according to data from the China National Tourism Administration.In Beijing alone, 294,000 tourists visited the city's 160 key scenic spots on Friday.China's northwestern Gansu Province received 860,500 travellers, up 22.1 per cent year on year. The province reaped tourist revenues of 520 million yuan, up 25.9 per cent year on year.In terms of outbound tourism, Phuket and Bangkok in Thailand, Nha Trang in Vietnam, Bali in Indonesia and Singapore were among the most popular destinations.It is estimated that over six million Chinese people will travel abroad during the holiday. 

  • Dubai Crocodile Park to open next year-end
    Dubai Crocodile Park to open next year-end

    04.12.2016 |The Dubai Crocodile Park project is 43 per cent complete and will open at the end of next year, said Juma Al Fuqae, Director of Property Management Department and Vice Chairman of the Investment Committee at Dubai Municipality.Al Fuqae said the opening has been extended to allow more time for preparations at the venue which is being set up on the lines of Crocodile Parks in France, and is considered to be the first of its kind in the Middle East.Once open, the park will enable hundreds of crocodiles to grow and reproduce naturally, and will house many types of Nile crocodiles, the largest fresh-water species in the world.Talking on the environmental aspect of the project, Al Fuqae said the engineering and construction materials used in the project are environment-friendly and depend on renewable energy and waste treatment.

  • Biologists exploring ways to save dying Great Barrier Reef
    Biologists exploring ways to save dying Great Barrier Reef

    01.11.2016 | Several biologists are exploring ways to restore the beauty of the world famous Great Barrier Reef, which is dying.According to Australia's National Coral Bleaching Taskforce, about 93 per cent of the Great Barrier Reef has suffered some degree of bleaching, Biologists have found that an increase of just one or two degrees of the water temperatures can cause coral reefs to reject the colourful algae that reside inside, turning the coral white."How much worse that gets will depend on how we deal with global warming," Mark Eakin, Coral Reef Watch coordinator with the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), said in a statement on Monday.Besides restraining global warming, several scientists are trying different methods to directly work on the coral, according to recent reports by different newspapers.Ruth Gates, a coral biologist from the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology on Oahu is looking for stress-tolerant corals and breeding them to create a strain of coral that can stand changing water temperature, according to reports by Gloucester Times, a US media group.Philippe Cousteau, the offspring of a prominent family specialized in environmental and conservation protection career, was reported to be searching techniques for transplanting reef micro fragments to replace the damaged section of the reef.Meanwhile, in a report by US newspaper Greensburg Daily News, Peter Harrison, scientist from Southern Cross University in Lismore, Australia, is using the sperm and eggs of healthy corals to create numerous larvae, and then use the insects on the reefs in the Philippines to restore local marine life.Although all the above methods have not been massively applied to the Great Barrier Reef, the scientists' efforts offered a glimmer that our descendants may have the day to enjoy the beauty of the reef like us.

  • Climate change can make fish swim towards predators
    Climate change can make fish swim towards predators

    23.10.2016 | Climate change is disrupting the sensory systems of fish and can even make them swim towards predators, instead of away from them, say researchers.These abnormal behaviours are linked to the effect of carbon dioxide (CO2) on how the brain processes signals from sensory organs, according to the study published in the journal Global Change Biology.The researchers showed that farmed fish often live in CO2 conditions 10 times higher than their wild cousins."Our research will allow fish farmers to optimise conditions, and specifically CO2 levels, to improve growth and health of their fish, profitability and the long-term sustainability of the industry," said one of the researchers, Rod Wilson, climate-change marine biologist at the University of Exeter in England."This is really important given that aquaculture is the only way we will increase seafood production to feed the growing human population, particularly given wild fish stocks are over exploited," Wilson noted.The scientists believe that further study of farmed fish -- which already provides as much seafood for human consumption as that caught in the wild -- may be crucial for understanding how aquatic species will evolve to climate change. 

  • China fish fossil reveals where our jaws come from
    China fish fossil reveals where our jaws come from

    21.10.2016 |Paleontologists from China and Sweden revealed that our jaws can be traced back to these extinct armoured prehistoric fish that dominated the oceans, rivers and lakes over 400 million years ago.The findings, published in the US journal Science, were based on a newly discovered fossil fish in Yunnan known as Qilinyu, which is part of the ancient armoured fish.The discovery of the 423-million-year-old fish fossil "fills a big gap in our understanding of how vertebrate jaws evolved," John Long, a paleontologist at Australia's Flinders University, wrote in an accompanying article in the journal.The question of where our jaws came from is "more complicated than it seems, because not all jaws are the same," Zhu Min of the Chinese Academy of Sciences said in an email toAll modern vertebrates, including us, have a jaw that is composed of three parts: the dentary, maxilla and premaxilla.But further back in time, only one other group of fishes, the extinct placoderms, have a similar set of jaw bones.These bones, known as "gnathal plates", have always been regarded as unrelated to our jaw.The picture began to change in 2013 when Zhu and his colleagues unveiled a fossil, called Entelognathus, that had a placoderm-like body but a three-part jaw in Yunnan.However, there was some uncertainty as to whether those jaws came from.Now, Zhu and Per Ahlberg from the Uppsala University in Sweden reported the discovery of Qilinyu that came from the same place and time period as Entelognathus,The preserved part of the fossil is 126 mm in length, with an estimated total body length of more than 20 cm.With a dolphin-shaped head, this fish appears to have dwelled and fed along the bottom of bodies of water.The simplest interpretation of the observed pattern, according to the researchers, is that our own jaw bones evolved from these old gnathal plates of placoderms.

  • What keeps fish singing through the night to attract mates?
    What keeps fish singing through the night to attract mates?

    26.09.2016 |Certain fish keep singing through the night to attract mates and researchers have found how melatonin, a time-keeping hormone, and daily light cycles help the fish keep a tab on the timing of their humming -- starting in the late evening and stopping suddenly in the morning.Male plainfin midshipman fish (Porichthys notatus) sing at night to attract mates, but very little is known about the roles of melatonin and circadian rhythms in nocturnal vertebrates, including fish that vocalise during mating season. Other studies on diurnal (day-active) songbirds have shown that melatonin suppresses singing at night but increases the duration of syllables when these birds do sing.In the current study, in the journal Current Biology, the researchers found that melatonin had an opposite effect on these nocturnal fish compared with diurnal birds.Its release provided a "go signal" for night singing. But similar to diurnal songbirds, the hormone also acted to lengthen calls when the fish sang."Our results, together with those of others that also show melatonin's actions on vastly different timescales, highlight the ability of hormones in general to regulate the output of neural networks in the brain to control distinct components of behaviour," said senior author Andrew Bass, Professor Cornell University in New York."In the case of melatonin, one hormone can exert similar or different effects in diurnal vs. nocturnal species depending on the timescale of action, from day-night rhythms to the duration of single calls," Bass noted.In the study, the researchers brought wild-caught midshipman fish into the lab, where they could control lighting. In one experiment, they tested if the male fish's daily nocturnal song was controlled by an internally generated circadian rhythm. They put the fish in constant darkness without any light cues for seven days at a time, and found the fish still sang but on a 25-hour schedule, so they started one hour later each night.In another experiment, to understand melatonin's effects on behavior, fish were exposed to constant light for 10-day stretches. The pineal gland produces melatonin in vertebrates but only in the dark, and constant light significantly suppressed the fish's humming. But when fish were given a melatonin substitute, they continued to hum, though at random times of day without a rhythm, the study said.The researchers also located specific melatonin receptors -- sites where melatonin triggers an action in the brain -- in brain regions that control reproductive and social behaviours, including vocal initiation centers, the same as in birds and other vertebrates.

  • Manimahesh pilgrimage in Himachal to begin on August 25
    Manimahesh pilgrimage in Himachal to begin on August 25

    21.08.2016 | The fortnight-long pilgrimage to Manimahesh lake, linked to Lord Shiva, in Himachal Pradesh will begin on August 25 and about 200,000 people are expected to take part in it, an official said on Sunday.The oval-shaped Manimahesh lake is located at an altitude of 13,500 feet in Bharmour region of Chamba district from where pilgrims can see Mount Kailash, believed to be the abode of Lord Shiva, and offer prayers."All arrangements have been made for the devotees to stay in tents. Special medical camps have been set up along the route to the lake," Deputy Commissioner Sudesh Mokhta told .The pilgrimage, considered as arduous a trek as the one to the Amarnath cave shrine in Kashmir, will conclude on September 9.The first holy dip in the lake will take place on Krishna Janmashtami (August 25) and the second and the last one will be held on Radhashthmi (September 9).The state government has allowed a private heli-taxi operator to ferry pilgrims.Helicopters will ferry devotees between Bharmour town, the base camp of the pilgrimage known for 'Chaurasi' or 84 Hindu temples, and Gauri Kund, just one km short of the lake. The fare per person per single trip is Rs 2,010.The journey on foot starts from Hadsar village in Chamba district at a height of 6,000 feet and concludes after traversing a distance of 14 km at the lake, which is situated at an altitude of 13,500 feet.It is believed that devotees can have a view of Mount Kailash only if Lord Shiva is pleased. "Otherwise, all one sees is clouds," say believers.Hadsar is located some 215 km from Pathankot (Punjab) which is connected by rail.

  • Meet Europe's oldest living inhabitant
    Meet Europe's oldest living inhabitant

    21.08.2016 |A Bosnian pine (Pinus heldreichii) growing in the highlands of northern Greece has been dendrocronologically dated to be more than 1075 years old.This makes it currently the oldest known living tree in Europe. It is one of more than a dozen individuals of millennial age, living in a treeline forest high in the Pindos mountains.Considering where the tree was found, and its venerable age, the scientists have named this individual "Adonis" after the Greek god of beauty and desire."In our research, we try to build long chronologies to construct climate histories, so finding living trees of old age is one of our motivations. To age the tree, we needed to take a core of wood, from the outside to the centre. The core is one metre and has 1075 annual rings," said dendrochronologist at Stockholm University, Paul J. Krusic.According to the study, this tree has basically remained untouched for over a thousand years.The scientists hope the annual variations of the tree rings from trees like this and those fallen in centuries past, yet still preserved on the ground, will provide an informative history of climatic and environmental conditions, going back thousands of years.rded at 34.4 degrees Celsius, while the minimum temperature remained 27.6 degrees.

  • Fish can distinguish between human faces: Study
    Fish can distinguish between human faces: Study

    08.06.2016 |Despite having a much simpler and smaller brain than that of primates, fish have the remarkable ability to distinguish between human faces, new research has found.“Being able to distinguish between a large number of human faces is a surprisingly difficult task, mainly due to the fact that all human faces share the same basic features,” said first author Cait Newport from Oxford University.“It has been hypothesised that this task is so difficult that it can only be accomplished by primates, which have a large and complex brain,” Newport noted.To test this idea, the researchers wanted to determine if another animal with a smaller and simpler brain, and with no evolutionary need to recognise human faces, was still able to do so.In the study, archerfish -- a species of tropical fish well known for its ability to spit jets of water to knock down aerial prey -- were presented with two images of human faces and trained to choose one of them using their jets. The fish were then presented with the learned face and a series of new faces and were able to correctly choose the face they had initially learned to recognise. They were able to perform this task even when more obvious features, such as head shape and colour, were removed from the images.The fish were highly accurate when selecting the correct face, reaching an average peak performance of 81 per cent in the first experiment (picking the previously learned face from 44 new faces) and 86 per cent in the second experiment (in which facial features such as brightness and colour were standardised).The study was published in the journal Scientific Reports.“Once the fish had learned to recognize a face, we then showed them the same face, as well as a series of new ones. In all cases, the fish continued to spit at the face they had been trained to recognize, proving that they were capable of telling the two apart,” Newport said.“The fact that archerfish can learn this task suggests that complicated brains are not necessarily needed to recognise human faces,” Newport noted.

  • Bleaching kills 35 percent of coral in Great Barrier Reef
    Bleaching kills 35 percent of coral in Great Barrier Reef

    30.05.2016 |Mass bleaching has killed 35 percent of the coral in the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the world's largest coral system, according to a report released on Monday.Experts from James Cook University's ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies made analyses by air and submarine of the impact of bleaching in the ecosystem, which stretches 2,300 km off the country's northeastern coast, Results indicated that the worst affected area is located off the coast of Townsville and Papua New Guinea, while in the region located south of Cairns, the average mortality is 5 percent."Fortunately, on reefs south of Cairns, our underwater surveys are also revealing that more than 95 percent of the corals have survived, and we expect these more mildly bleached corals to regain their normal colour over the next few months," Mia Hoogenboom of James Cook University said in a statement.The researchers also found that in Kimberley, north of Cairns, 80 percent of the coral has been severely affected by bleaching and at least 15 percent have died.The director of the reef studies centre, Terry Hughes, said this year is the "third time in 18 years that the Great Barrier Reef has experienced mass bleaching due to global warming, and the current event is much more extreme than we've measured before."Hughes explained that the three events of coral bleaching that occurred in the last 18 years coincide with the one degree Celsius rise in temperature above that recorded in the pre-industrial period.Corals have a special symbiotic relationship with a microscopic algae called zooxanthellae, which provides them with oxygen and a portion of the organic compounds produced through photosynthesis.When subjected to environmental stress, many coral reefs expel their zooxanthellae en masse, and coral polyps are left without pigmentation appearing almost transparent on the white skeleton of the animal, a phenomenon known as bleaching.The health of the Great Barrier Reef, home to 400 types of coral, 1,500 species of fish and 4,000 types of molluscs, began deteriorating in the 1990s owing to warming sea water and an increase in its acidity through the increased presence of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

  • Biodiversity protects fish from global warming
    Biodiversity protects fish from global warming

    17.05.2016 |Communities with more fish species are more productive and more resilient to rising temperatures and temperature swings, says a study.The accelerating loss and rearrangement of species all over the globe due to climate change have troubled scientists and the public for decades. But the question of whether biodiversity offers practical value -- for humans and ecosystems -- remained controversial. The new study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, offers proof that preserving marine biodiversity can benefit people as much as it benefits the oceans."Biodiversity is more than a pretty face," said study led author Emmett Duffy, senior scientist at Smithsonian Environmental Research Centre in Maryland, the US. "Preserving biodiversity is not just an aesthetic or spiritual issue -- it's critical to the healthy functioning of ecosystems and the important services they provide to humans, like seafood," Duffy noted.The discovery came out of the Reef Life Survey, a comprehensive programme that has conducted surveys of more than 3,000 fish species in 44 countries around the world. "This study is based on more than 4,000 underwater surveys," study co-author Rick Stuart-Smith from the University of Tasmania in Australia said. Armed with the most comprehensive global dataset on marine biodiversity involving standardised counts, the researchers tracked how 11 different environmental factors influenced total fish biomass on coral and rocky reefs around the world. They found that one of the strongest influences was biodiversity. The number of species (species richness) and the variety in how they use their environment (functional diversity) enhanced fish biomass. In communities with only a few species, fish biomass tended to increase with rising temperatures until seas warmed above 20 degrees Celsius -- at which point biomass started to fall. But communities with many species remained stable at these higher temperatures.The researchers found a similar buffering effect of diversity against temperature swings. The scientitsts suspect communities with more species are better equipped to handle temperature changes because they have more of their bases covered. When temperatures fluctuate, a community with numerous species has better odds that at least a few species can thrive in the new normal.

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