[Outreach] A busy year in Mumford Cove

On 13 April, Hannes was invited to the board meeting of the Mumford Cove Association to present a brief update about our groups research activities in and around the cove. It is part of our commitment to public education and outreach to keep property owners informed and maintain good relationships with all parties involved.

The information material below contains graphical summaries of our activities, i.e., measuring water quality parameters continuously with a logging probe and conducting biweekly beach seine surveys for silversides.

To a productive year 2016 in the cove!

Mumford Cove Ass_probe
Mumford Cove Ass_silversides

[Brown bag] Tips & tricks for preparing a good presentation

In preparation for the upcoming Feng Graduate Research Colloquium on Thursday, May 12 (Conn Avery Point, Marine Sciences), Hannes gave a brown bag seminar on how to make an effective presentation.

You can access/download the powerpoint of via this link below or by clicking on the image below.

Brown bag 4-13-16

[Lecture] OA multistressor lecture at Mitchell College

electure cover

On 15 March, Hannes gave a lecture at Mitchell College in New London, talking about the combined effects of ocean warming, acidification, and hypoxia on marine organisms. The entire lecture is publicly available at Limnology & Oceanography e-lectures.

“It was such a pleasure to have you present to the class today; your lecture was excellent – engaging with just the right amount and level of information. I’m glad that you intend to continue to provide outreach/education to the community on this topic.”

Amy Cabaniss, Adjunct Faculty – Marine Ecology, Environmental Studies (STEM)

[Talk] Multistressor seminar at URI

URI talk

On 26 February 2016, H. Baumann was invited to give a seminar at the Biological & Environmental Sciences Colloquium Series at the University of Rhode Island, featuring the recently published e-lecture on “Combined effects of ocean acidification, warming, and deoxygenation on marine organisms”
His host, David Bengston has been a renowned fisheries and aquaculture biologist for the past 40 years.

Baumann, H. (2016)
Combined effects of ocean acidification, warming, and hypoxia on marine organisms.
Limnology and Oceanography e-Lectures 6:1-43

[Lab News] Laboratory silversides “becoming famous”!

Sampling day! On September 15th 2015, our lab concluded a long-term growth experiment on four large laboratory populations (500+ fish per tank) of Atlantic silversides (Menidia menidia), which were reared at ambient and high CO2 levels and low temperature (17C) and feeding conditions. Given all the hard work rearing these fish from eggs to 4 month old juveniles, sacrificing them is always a bittersweet moment. To avoid the word ‘killing’, we therefore coined the euphemism “becoming famous”.

Thanks to Jake’s new GoPro, here’s a time lapse of all of us working for hours to sample, measure and preserve various parts of the populations for later analyses of weight, sex, as well as genetic and transcriptomic approaches.

Chris Murray measuring juvenile Atlantic silversides that were reared in our lab for the past four months
Chris Murray measuring juvenile Atlantic silversides that were reared in our lab for the past four months
Fish measurement party
Some fish were measured immediately, others were preserved in formaldehyde/seawater solution, frozen at -20C or -80C
Hannes Baumann measuring some the many fish that were sampled on 15 Sep 2015
Hannes measuring some the many fish that were sampled on 15 Sep 2015.

[Science Panel] 24th Annual Long Island Sound Citizens Summit

“Combined effects of low oxygen and low pH on coastal marine organisms”

Save the Sound 24th Annual Citizen Summit

April 9th 2015. H. Baumann shared insights from experimental work on the combined effects of low oxygen and low pH on coastal fish and shellfish as part of a science panel discussion during the 24th Annual Citizen Summit organized by ‘Save the Sound’
The motto of the 24th Annual Citizen Summit, organized by Save the Sound was ‘Coming back from the brink’. Speakers highlighted the tremendous amount of work towards reducing the eutrophication problem of Long Island Sound, but also the challenges ahead. Baumann highlighted that in addition to traditional concerns of hypoxia as a negative consequence of eutrophication, acidification is a co-occurring stressor. The combination of these two stressors needs to be better understood and tested, because in ecology the effects of two co-occurring stressors may not simply be the sum of each stressor acting alone. Sometimes … 1 + 1 > 2. Other panelists were Dr. Jamie Vaudrey (UConn) and Lisa Suatoni (NRDC) moderated by Dr. Johan (Joop) Varekamp (Wesleyan University and Chairman of the Board, Connecticut Fund for the Environment).

Web: 24th Annual Long Island Sound Citizens Summit

[Campus Talk] H. Baumann talks at Avery Point Global Cafe

“Nets versus Nature: Have we indadvertedly made our fish smaller?”

Avery Point Global Cafe

April 9th 2015. H. Baumann contributed to Avery Point’s Global Cafe Series “The Omnivore at Sea” by talking about the topic of fisheries-induced evolution.
When hearing and talking about sustainable seafood, issues such as overfishing, fishing-related habitat destruction (e.g., trawls tearing through bottom habitat, dynamite fishing) or changes to the architecture of marine ecosystems (‘fishing down the foodweb’) often come to mind. Baumann talked about another potential effect of heavy decade-long commercial fishing, which is less clear but perhaps even more insidious. Nature’s age-old rule of survival in the ocean, i.e., that faster growing fish have better chances of survival, is suddenly reversed when size-selective fishing becomes the dominant agent of mortality. Because in fishing, a faster growing fish will just be susceptible sooner to get caught by the meshes of a fishing trawl. We instinctively know that life on earth has adjusted before to changing selection pressures, and there’s little reason to suspect that this case might be different. Commercial fishing may trigger fisheries-induced evolution, and this may mean smaller, earlier maturing fish and less total biomass for centuries to come. The brief talk will summarize the problem as we know it, explore alternative explanations and look at examples, which show that the issue is also inextricably linked to all the other natural and man-made changes (warming, food web) that affect fish stocks. A cautionary approach that considers evolutionary processes within the framework of sustainable fisheries is surely warranted.

[Press release] Evolving to cope with Climate Change

Publication of Malvezzi et al. Evolutionary Applications (2015) “A quantitative genetic approach to assess the evolutionary potential of a coastal marine fish to ocean acidification”

Atlantic silversides Menidia menidia

Originally posted on UConn Today, by Tim Miller

Over the next two centuries, climate change is likely to impact everything from industrial agriculture to the shape of our coastlines. The changing climate will certainly cause huge changes around the world, and the challenge is to predict exactly what impact those changes will have.

In the world of marine science, this means grappling with a process called ocean acidification. As human activity pumps carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, some of the carbon dioxide gets absorbed into the sea, which raises its acidity.

Scientists have been concerned about this for more than a decade, says Hannes Baumann, an assistant professor of marine sciences who studies the phenomenon in his lab at UConn’s Avery Point campus. “The fundamental question,” he says, “is whether or not organisms can adapt to this threat.”

That question is important, because although ocean acidification is happening, it is a slow process. Levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have increased more than 50 percent since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. They are expected to undergo another four-fold increase, but over the course of the next 300 years.

“Three hundred years is only five or six generations for whales or long-lived sharks,” says Baumann, “or 300,000 generations of single-celled organisms.”

Recent work has thus focused on whether or not species can evolve along with the ocean, adapting over time to the increasing acidity.

Measuring evolutionary potential

In order to answer that question, Baumann and his colleagues turned to a small but important fish, the Atlantic silverside, Menidia menidia. Common across the shallow waters of eastern North America, the silverside is an important food source for aquatic birds like egret and cormorant, as well as commercially important fish species like bluefish and striped bass.

The researchers’ goal was to measure the so-called “evolutionary potential” of this species. It was already known that high levels of carbon dioxide would kill many, but not all, Atlantic silverside larvae. The researchers wanted to know whether the likelihood of surviving had a genetic component: if fish that were related to one another were more or less likely to survive in the new environment.

“We were basically trying to answer the question: Can they evolve?” Baumann says.

His team approached the problem by capturing wild silverside from a beach in Long Island Sound, and raising several groups of their offspring in the lab, some under normal ocean conditions, and some in a more acidic environment.

They then tracked how long each of the fish lived, and analyzed their DNA, looking for what are called “microsatellites” – the same repetitive strands of DNA that are used in human paternity tests. The analysis revealed which fish were related to one another.

The team found that related fish had similar lifespans, suggesting that there is indeed a significant genetic component to survival in an acidic ocean. This means that the fish does have the potential to evolve, a finding which may have important ramifications for predictions about how the ocean environment will change with the changing climate.

Baumann, who recently joined the faculty at UConn after an appointment at Stony Brook University, was enthusiastic about the result, primarily because it demonstrates a method by which the evolutionary potential of other species can be measured.

“This is an experiment that can be performed in one generation,” he says. He is hopeful that the results will prove useful in predicting how oysters, sea urchins, and a host of other marine organisms will be able to cope with the changing ocean environment.

The research was first published Feb. 14 online, and will appear in the March issue of the journal Evolutionary Applications.

This work was made possible by grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).


Web coverage: UConn Today | NSF | OceanBites | ScienceDaily | AAAS EurekAlert | EnvResearchWeb | | ScienceWR