Invasive Species Benefit From Changes in Ocean Currents During Storms
Just when you thought hurricanes couldn't get any scarier, think again.
Their names roll of the tongue like a rogues' gallery: Floyd, Frances, Irene, Wilma and Andrew. But these aren't the names of notorious criminals; rather, they are just a few of the hurricanes since 1992 that have helped spread invasive marine species throughout the Florida Straits.
Researchers at Nova Southeastern University's (NSU) Oceanographic Center have discovered that storms don't only have a dramatic impact on land; they have an equally dramatic effect on ocean currents, which helps the spread of marine invasive species throughout a region. More specifically, NSU researchers looked at the distribution of lionfish in the Florida Straits.
"This is the first-ever study that shows hurricane-altered ocean currents are able not only to help, but actually accelerate the invasion of non-native marine species of any kind," said Matthew Johnston, Ph.D., one of the research scientists at NSU's Oceanographic Center who conducted the study. "Lionfish are pretty sedentary, so this is like creating express lanes on a superhighway – otherwise, that's a pretty long swim for lionfish babies."
The research, conducted by Johnston and NSU Oceanographic Center Professor Sam Purkis, Ph.D., focused on the explosion of lionfish populations in area waters. Their findings are being published in the journal Global Change Biology. Another NSU Oceanographic Center Professor, Richard Spieler, Ph.D., in the course of his research, was one of the first to see lionfish in Bahamian waters soon after their arrival.
Not to be too technical, Johnston said that the research focused on how large storms (i.e. hurricanes) affect the flow of water in the Florida Straits. Normally, the currents represent a potential barrier to the transport of lionfish eggs and larvae across the Florida Straits. The researchers found that as a hurricane passes, the flow of water shifts from a strong, northern flow to a strong, eastern flow.
It's these changes in flow direction and speed that likely carry lionfish larvae and eggs from Florida to the Bahamas and can explain how lionfish were able to cross the Gulf Stream so soon after their introduction to South Florida waters.
Johnston said that once they were established in the Bahamas, hurricanes allowed lionfish to spread quickly against the normal, northwestern direction of water flow in the area. In addition, the storms helped increase the spread of lionfish by approximately 45% and their population size by 15%.
"The study has broader implications in that global climate change may cause an increase in storm frequency and/or intensity, perhaps further accelerating the spread of marine invasives," Johnston said. "Given that South Florida is a hotspot for marine invasive species, the transport of marine larvae from Florida to the Bahamas on hurricane-altered water flow may become commonplace for invasive and native species alike."
Johnston indicated this research has two implications. First, we need to make a concerted effort to prevent marine introductions to begin with and second, we must implement vigorous, early-detection programs to remove these invasive species before they become a problem. Now the team wants to take this research concept and study similar situations in the South Pacific where typhoons are common.
You can find the complete paper on the effect hurricanes have on non-native species in the Florida Straits online at Global Change Biology.
About Nova Southeastern University (NSU): Located in beautiful Fort Lauderdale, Florida, NSU is a dynamic research institution dedicated to providing high-quality educational programs at the undergraduate, graduate and first-professional degree levels. An independent, not-for-profit institution with approximately 25,000 students, NSU has campuses in Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Jacksonville, Miami, Miramar, Orlando, Palm Beach and Tampa, Florida as well as San Juan, Puerto Rico and online globally. For more than 50 years, NSU has been awarding degrees in a wide range of fields, while fostering groundbreaking research and an impactful commitment to community. Classified as a research university with "high research activity" by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, NSU is one of only 37 universities nationwide to also be awarded Carnegie's Community Engagement Classification. For more information, please visit www.nova.edu
About NSU's Oceanographic Center: The Oceanographic Center provides high-quality graduate education programs (i.e. master's, doctoral, certificate) in a broad range of marine science disciplines. Center researchers carry out innovative, basic and applied marine and research programs in coral reel biology, ecology, and geology; fish biology, ecology, and conservation; shark and billfish ecology; fisheries science; deep sea organismal biology and ecology; invertebrate and vertebrate genomics, genetics, molecular ecology, and evolution; microbiology; biodiversity; observation and modeling of large scale ocean circulation, coastal dynamics, and ocean atmosphere coupling; benthic habitat mapping; biodiversity; histology; and calcification. For more information, please visit http://www.nova.edu/ocean
Associate Director, Public Affairs
Joe Donzelli | newswise
Listening in: Acoustic monitoring devices detect illegal hunting and logging
14.12.2017 | Gesellschaft für Ökologie e.V.
How fires are changing the tundra’s face
12.12.2017 | Gesellschaft für Ökologie e.V.
DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.
Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...
MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.
Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...
Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...
Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.
To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...
The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.
Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
07.12.2017 | Event News
15.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
15.12.2017 | Materials Sciences
15.12.2017 | Life Sciences