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News Article | February 22, 2017
Site: hosted2.ap.org

(AP) — The six ocean hot spots that teem with the biggest mix of species are also getting hit hardest by global warming and industrial fishing, a new study finds. An international team looked at more than 2,100 species of fish, seabirds, marine mammals and even tiny plankton to calculate Earth's hot spots of marine biodiversity. These underwater super-zoos are in patches of ocean that are overfished and warming fast, and these pressures hurt the lush life there, according to a study appearing in Wednesday's journal Science Advances . "In those hot spots, the changes are already happening," says study co-author Andre Chiaradia, a senior scientist and penguin expert at the Phillip Island Nature Parks in Australia. "They are the most at risk." Several outside marine and climate scientists praised the work, saying it showed the importance of protecting these areas and reducing fishing. "Biodiversity and fisheries are humanity's legacy" that should be preserved, marine ecologist Maria Vernet of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography said in an email. She wasn't part of the research. While scientists in the past have identified key areas of biodiversity, the new work is more detailed. Researchers found the liveliest ocean hot spot also happens to be where the science of evolution sprouted: the Pacific Ocean off the central South American coast. It includes the area around the Galapagos Islands and goes back to "our good friend (Charles) Darwin. When he went there, he got amazed," Chiaradia said. Other hot spots include the southwestern Atlantic Ocean off Argentina; the western Indian Ocean off the African coast; the central western Pacific Ocean surrounding Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines; the southwestern Pacific off Australia's southern and eastern coast; and the Oceania region of the Pacific around the international date line. Four of the six hot spots are in the Pacific; all are either in the southern hemisphere or just north of the equator. "What makes this biodiversity? It's the isolation," Chiardia said. "On land, we have kangaroos and weird animals like the platypus. And in the ocean it's not different." The ocean is home to Australian sea dragons, a fish related to the seahorse that resemble mythical dragons and sometimes even have yellow and purple markings on their bodies. These hot spots also tend to be places where the ocean waters churn more, Chiardia said. Penguins, which are near the top of the food chain, are a good example of the impact of changing water temperatures and currents. Warm El Nino waters have decimated Galapagos penguins and the population of southern African penguins has dropped by about 90 percent in just 20 years, Chiardia said. Follow Seth Borenstein at http://twitter.com/borenbears and his work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/seth-borenstein


News Article | February 22, 2017
Site: phys.org

An international team looked at more than 2,100 species of fish, seabirds, marine mammals and even tiny plankton to calculate Earth's hot spots of marine biodiversity. These underwater super-zoos are in patches of ocean that are overfished and warming fast, and these pressures hurt the lush life there, according to a study appearing in Wednesday's journal Science Advances. "In those hot spots, the changes are already happening," says study co-author Andre Chiaradia, a senior scientist and penguin expert at the Phillip Island Nature Parks in Australia. "They are the most at risk." Several outside marine and climate scientists praised the work, saying it showed the importance of protecting these areas and reducing fishing. "Biodiversity and fisheries are humanity's legacy" that should be preserved, marine ecologist Maria Vernet of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography said in an email. She wasn't part of the research. While scientists in the past have identified key areas of biodiversity, the new work is more detailed. Researchers found the liveliest ocean hot spot also happens to be where the science of evolution sprouted: the Pacific Ocean off the central South American coast. It includes the area around the Galapagos Islands and goes back to "our good friend (Charles) Darwin. When he went there, he got amazed," Chiaradia said. Other hot spots include the southwestern Atlantic Ocean off Argentina; the western Indian Ocean off the African coast; the central western Pacific Ocean surrounding Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines; the southwestern Pacific off Australia's southern and eastern coast; and the Oceania region of the Pacific around the international date line. Four of the six hot spots are in the Pacific; all are either in the southern hemisphere or just north of the equator. "What makes this biodiversity? It's the isolation," Chiardia said. "On land, we have kangaroos and weird animals like the platypus. And in the ocean it's not different." The ocean is home to Australian sea dragons, a fish related to the seahorse that resemble mythical dragons and sometimes even have yellow and purple markings on their bodies. These hot spots also tend to be places where the ocean waters churn more, Chiardia said. Penguins, which are near the top of the food chain, are a good example of the impact of changing water temperatures and currents. Warm El Nino waters have decimated Galapagos penguins and the population of southern African penguins has dropped by about 90 percent in just 20 years, Chiardia said. Explore further: New study reveals what penguins eat More information: "Climate impacts on global hot spots of marine biodiversity," Science Advances, advances.sciencemag.org/content/3/2/e1601198


News Article | February 22, 2017
Site: news.yahoo.com

FILE - In this Aug. 27, 2015 file photo, a Penguin runs out of the ocean after swimming with other penguins at Boulders beach a popular tourist destination in Simon's Town, South Africa. The six ocean hot spots that teem with the biggest mix of species are also among those getting hit hardest by global warming and industrial fishing, a new study finds. It’s sort of like the targeting of the world’s natural underwater super-zoos. (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam, File) WASHINGTON (AP) — The six ocean hot spots that teem with the biggest mix of species are also getting hit hardest by global warming and industrial fishing, a new study finds. An international team looked at more than 2,100 species of fish, seabirds, marine mammals and even tiny plankton to calculate Earth's hot spots of marine biodiversity. These underwater super-zoos are in patches of ocean that are overfished and warming fast, and these pressures hurt the lush life there, according to a study appearing in Wednesday's journal Science Advances . "In those hot spots, the changes are already happening," says study co-author Andre Chiaradia, a senior scientist and penguin expert at the Phillip Island Nature Parks in Australia. "They are the most at risk." Several outside marine and climate scientists praised the work, saying it showed the importance of protecting these areas and reducing fishing. "Biodiversity and fisheries are humanity's legacy" that should be preserved, marine ecologist Maria Vernet of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography said in an email. She wasn't part of the research. While scientists in the past have identified key areas of biodiversity, the new work is more detailed. Researchers found the liveliest ocean hot spot also happens to be where the science of evolution sprouted: the Pacific Ocean off the central South American coast. It includes the area around the Galapagos Islands and goes back to "our good friend (Charles) Darwin. When he went there, he got amazed," Chiaradia said. Other hot spots include the southwestern Atlantic Ocean off Argentina; the western Indian Ocean off the African coast; the central western Pacific Ocean surrounding Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines; the southwestern Pacific off Australia's southern and eastern coast; and the Oceania region of the Pacific around the international date line. Four of the six hot spots are in the Pacific; all are either in the southern hemisphere or just north of the equator. "What makes this biodiversity? It's the isolation," Chiardia said. "On land, we have kangaroos and weird animals like the platypus. And in the ocean it's not different." The ocean is home to Australian sea dragons, a fish related to the seahorse that resemble mythical dragons and sometimes even have yellow and purple markings on their bodies. These hot spots also tend to be places where the ocean waters churn more, Chiardia said. Penguins, which are near the top of the food chain, are a good example of the impact of changing water temperatures and currents. Warm El Nino waters have decimated Galapagos penguins and the population of southern African penguins has dropped by about 90 percent in just 20 years, Chiardia said. Follow Seth Borenstein at http://twitter.com/borenbears and his work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/seth-borenstein


Sutherland D.R.,Phillip Island Nature Parks | Glen A.S.,Landcare Research | De Tores P.J.,Invasive Animals Co operative Research Center
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences | Year: 2011

Emerging evidence increasingly illustrates the importance of a holistic, rather than taxon-specific, approach to the study of ecological communities. Considerable resources are expended to manage both introduced and native mammalian carnivores to improve conservation outcomes; however, management can result in unforeseen and sometimes catastrophic outcomes. Varanid lizards are likely to be apex- or mesopredators, but being reptiles are rarely considered by managers and researchers when investigating the impacts of mammalian carnivore management. Instances of mesopredator release have been described for Varanus gouldii as a result of fox and cat management in Australia, with cascading effects on faunal community structure. A meta-analysis showing extensive dietary niche overlap between varanids, foxes and cats plus a review of experimental and circumstantial evidence suggests mesopredator release of V. gouldii and about five other medium to large species of varanid lizard is likely in other regions. This highlights the need for managers to adopt a whole-of-community approach when attempting to manage predators for sustained fauna conservation, and that additional research is required to elucidate whether mesopredator release of varanids is a widespread consequence of carnivore management, altering the intended faunal responses. © 2010 The Royal Society.


Berry O.,University of Western Australia | Kirkwood R.,Phillip Island Nature Parks
Journal of Wildlife Management | Year: 2010

Optimal management of invasive pests can benefit from quantitative measures of rates of recruitment, and particularly, relative contributions of immigration and reproduction. However, these vital rates are difficult to estimate by trapping or observation. Recent studies have demonstrated that analyses with DNA markers may provide detailed information on the origin of immigrants into pest populations, but these studies have not provided comparable data on reproductive rates. We integrated genetic and demographic information from a unique longitudinal data set to comprehensively quantify recruitment during the past 15 years into an island population of red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) and to reveal relative contributions of immigration and reproduction. This population established 100 years ago and persists despite several decades of management aimed at population suppression. Primary source of recruits on the island was in situ reproduction (>95/annum), although the number of foxes reproducing was small relative to the total number present. Immigration occurred at rates up to 3.6/annum and was primarily by dispersing males, but is unlikely to be demographically important. We also show that although fox control effectively reduced fox density, there was evidence that control did not reduce the net number of recruits, most likely because the population exhibited a density-dependent release from reproductive suppression. Our results imply that fox control on Phillip Island should primarily focus on reducing on-island abundance and reproduction, but eradication will not be sustained unless immigration ceases. © 2010 The Wildlife Society.


Kirkwood R.,Phillip Island Nature Parks | Arnould J.P.Y.,Deakin University
Australian Journal of Zoology | Year: 2011

Australian fur seals (Arctocephalus pusillus doriferus) are the most conspicuous and abundant marine mammal in shelf waters of south-eastern Australia. To successfully rear offspring, the females must encounter sufficient prey on each foraging trip out of a central place for periods up to11 months each year. We investigated foraging trip strategies and habitat use by the females in three winterspring periods, 200103, from four colonies that span the species' latitudinal range and contribute 80% of pup production. Trip durations of 37 females averaged 6.1±0.5 (s.e.) days, although >90% of the seal's time at sea was spent <150km travel (<2 days) away. Most females exhibited strong fidelities to individually preferred hot-spots. Females from colonies adjacent to productive shelf-edge waters generally had shorter trips, had smaller ranges, foraged closer to colonies and exhibited less diversity in trip strategies than did those from colonies more distant from a shelf-edge. From a management perspective, there was minimal overlap (<1%) between where females foraged and a system of marine reserves established in 2007, suggesting that habitats visited by lactating Australian fur seals currently receive minimal legislative protection. © 2011 CSIRO.


Eastern Curlews breed in Siberia in the boreal spring and summer and migrate to Australia in the austral spring and summer. The Eastern Curlew is notable for its very long, decurved bill; this sexually dimorphic characteristic represents approximately 25-30% of total body length. Female curlews have the longest bill of any wader. Diet and prey choice in relation to availability and profitability were examined over two non-breeding periods in Western Port in southern Australia. Diet was determined from direct feeding observations, examination of pellets collected at high-tide roosts (during daytime and night-time) and by following tracks of foraging curlews. Male and female curlews used the intertidal feeding areas differently: females used more sandy areas and males more muddy areas. This difference may be related to sexual dimorphism in bill length and could reflect substantial dietary differences. Tasselled Crab Pilumnus fissifrons was the most common prey, followed by Australian Ghost Shrimp Trypaea australiensis, Two-spined Crab Litocheira bispinosa and Sentinel Crab Tasmanoplax latifrons. The availability of prey was examined in aquaria through examination of burrowing behaviour and other activity patterns in relation to tidal movements and levels of daylight. Prey behaviour explained the greater consumption of male Ghost Shrimps and the differences in diet between day and night. More Ghost Shrimps and Sentinel Crabs and fewer Two-spined Crabs were taken during the day than during night. Prey choice was examined by measuring the calorific values of prey and potential prey species. Generally, curlews took the more energy valuable prey, but prey behaviour and prey availability mostly determined prey choice, not the energetic value of prey.


Sutherland D.R.,Phillip Island Nature Parks | Dann P.,Phillip Island Nature Parks
Ibis | Year: 2012

Seabird numbers can change rapidly as a result of environmental processes, both natural and anthropogenic. Informed management and conservation of seabirds requires accurate and precise monitoring of population size. However, for burrow-nesting species this is rarely achieved due to spatial and temporal heterogeneity in burrow occupancy. Here, we describe a novel method for deriving more accurate population size estimates that employs mark-recapture methods to correct for unknown variation in nest occupancy throughout a breeding season. We apply it to estimate breeding numbers of a colonial, burrowing seabird, the Little Penguin Eudyptula minor, on the Summerland Peninsula, Phillip Island, Australia. Estimates of active burrow numbers during the September 2008 to February 2009 breeding season were adjusted to numbers of breeding birds based on burrow occupation and modelled population demographics at six, fortnightly monitored reference sites. The population was estimated to be 26 100 (95% CI: 21 100-31 100) and 28 400 (23 800-33 000) breeding Penguins in two temporally separated surveys within one breeding season. We demonstrate using simulation that the method is robust to variation in burrow occupancy throughout the breeding season, providing consistent and more accurate estimates of population size. The advantage of using the corrected method is that confidence intervals will include the true population size. Confidence limits widened as burrow occupancy declined, reflecting the increased uncertainty as larger adjustments for low burrow occupancy were required. In contrast, the uncorrected method that uses burrow occupancy alone as a measure of breeding numbers was inconsistent and significantly underestimated population size across much of the breeding season. Although requiring considerably more survey effort, the corrected approach provides a more accurate means for monitoring population changes in colonially breeding animals while collecting demographic data that can help diagnose the drivers of population change. © 2012 The Authors. Ibis © 2012 British Ornithologists' Union.


Dann P.,Phillip Island Nature Parks | Chambers L.,Center for Australian Weather and Climate Research
Climate Research | Year: 2013

Using a 40 yr demographic database of little penguins Eudyptula minor, we investigated anticipated impacts of climatic changes on the penguin population at Phillip Island, southeastern Australia, and the potential economic impact on the associated tourism industry over the next century. We project a small loss of penguin breeding habitat due to sea level rise, although breeding habitat is unlikely to be limiting over this period. However, some erosion in the vicinity of tourism infrastructure will undoubtedly occur which will have economic implications. We anti cipate little direct impact of decreased rainfall and humidity. However, fire risk may increase, and extreme climate events may reduce adult and chick survival slightly. Warmer oceans are likely to improve recruitment into the breeding population but the effect on adult survival is unclear. Overall, many aspects of little penguin biology are likely to be affected by climatic change but no net negative effect on population size is projected from existing analyses. Ocean acidification has the potential to be a highly significant negative influence, but present assessments are speculative. Some of the predicted negative impacts can be addressed in the shortterm, particularly those resulting from expected changes to the terrestrial environment. Others, particularly in the marine environment, appear to have limited options for mitigation locally. In the absence of evidence indicating population decline, economic impact may be confined to issues for tourism infrastructure due to increased sea-levels during storm events. © Inter-Research 2013.


Sutherland D.R.,Phillip Island Nature Parks | Dann P.,Phillip Island Nature Parks
Biodiversity and Conservation | Year: 2014

Estimating long-term population trends is vital for the conservation and management of species, yet few trends exist and fewer still are verified with independent measures. We compared three independent measures of change in population size over 27 years (1984-2011) for a significant Little Penguin Eudyptula minor colony in south-eastern Australia: (1) a series of 13 colony-wide surveys conducted in eight separate years, (2) mean nightly counts of penguins returning to breeding sites (365 counts × 27 years) and (3) population growth rates from a demographic model based on survival and recruitment rates measured at three sites each year. Colony-wide surveys of burrows were used as a benchmark of change in population size in the 8 years they were conducted as they were a robust measure of population size corrected for intra-annual variation in burrow occupancy using mark-recapture modelling at six reference sites. However, the demographic model matched the trend from colony-wide surveys with greater resolution in years and with less effort. Beach counts were unreliable for monitoring trends for the entire population due to its singular and peripheral location in the colony. Trends indicate a doubling of the population from 1984 to 2011 despite a marked population contraction linked to a mass mortality of a key prey species. The colony appears secure but remains subject to changes in the marine and terrestrial environments in the longer term. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.

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