What are scientists saying about the fate of the Great Barrier Reef?

This week PBS interviewed scientists, including Dr. Jennifer Smith, about the effects of climate change on the health of the Great Barrier Reef. Click here to learn more about the science behind global warming and coral bleaching and what actions you can take daily to help preserve coral reefs!

Smith lab and colleagues find that Crown of Thorns (COTS) larvae can take up organic matter derived from corals

Crown-of-Thorns Starfish Larvae can feed on Organic Matter Released from Corals Ryota Nakajima, Nobuyuki Nakatomi, Haruko Kurihara, Michael D. Fox, Jennifer E. Smith, and Ken Okaji Abstract: Previous studies have suggested that Crown-of-Thorns starfish (COTS) larvae may be able to survive in the absence of abundant phytoplankton resources suggesting that they may be able to utilize alternative food sources. Here, … Read More

Smith lab and colleagues present an autonomous approach to measure coral reef net calcification and production rates

Assessment of net community production and calcification of a coral reef using a boundary layer approach Abstract: Coral reefs are threatened worldwide, and there is a need to develop new approaches to monitor reef health under natural conditions. Because simultaneous measurements of net community production (NCP) and net community calcification (NCC) are used as important indicators of reef health, tools are … Read More

New publication from Smith lab & colleagues: Meet the Benthic Underwater Microscope (BUM)

Underwater microscopy for in situ studies of benthic ecosystems Abstract: Microscopic-scale processes significantly influence benthic marine ecosystems such as coral reefs and kelp forests. Due to the ocean’s complex and dynamic nature, it is most informative to study these processes in the natural environment yet it is inherently difficult. Here we present a system capable of non-invasively imaging seafloor environments and organisms … Read More

Palmyra Atoll Bleaching Update (May 2016)

The abnormally warm water event associated with El Niño has been pummeling coral reefs worldwide. Last week the Sandin and Smith labs from Scripps Institution of Oceanography embarked on a rapid response expedition to survey the damage of the warm sea surface temperatures at one of our long term monitoring sites. Palmyra Atoll, a tiny island in the central Pacific, … Read More

Smith lab and colleagues publish new paper looking at microbes on coral reefs

Global microbialization of coral reefs Abstract: Microbialization refers to the observed shift in ecosystem trophic structure towards higher microbial biomass and energy use. On coral reefs, the proximal causes of microbialization are overfishing and eutrophication, both of which facilitate enhanced growth of fleshy algae, conferring a competitive advantage over calcifying corals and coralline algae. The proposed mechanism for this competitive … Read More

Published Results – new paper focuses on the small things on a coral reef

Jill’s new paper, written with Jen and Levi, came out recently in the Marine Ecology Progress Series. Their paper, Quantifying scales of spatial variability in algal turf assemblages on coral reefs, describes how turf algae on a coral reef are variable over very small scales. Turf algae are a group of small (~ 1 cm tall) algae that grow like a fuzzy … Read More

These Three Reefs Are Not Like Each Other

By Maggie Johnson My field work entails a combination of field and laboratory experiments. Field work is utterly exhausting; working in and on the water for all daylight hours and then in the lab for what remains of the day. But one of the things I love the most about being a marine biologist with field based research is the … Read More