Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Breath Of The Ocean Links Fish Feeding, Reefs, Climate

Date:
March 11, 2008
Source:
University of California - Davis
Summary:
An ocean odor that affects global climate also gathers reef fish to feed as they "eavesdrop" on events that might lead them to food. DMSP is given off by algae and phytoplankton, microscopic one-celled plants that float in the ocean. Release of DMSP usually indicates either that tiny animals in the plankton are feeding on the algae, or that massive growth of algae -- an algal bloom -- has occurred. Once released from the ocean into the atmosphere, derivatives of DMSP promote cloud formation, so clouds reflect more sunlight back into space and cool the Earth.

Researchers are developing a better understanding of the effects of DMSP which could help in the recovery of damaged reefs.
Credit: Sean Lema, University of North Carolina

An ocean odor that affects global climate also gathers reef fish to feed as they "eavesdrop" on events that might lead them to food.

Dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP) is given off by algae and phytoplankton, microscopic one-celled plants that float in the ocean. Release of DMSP usually indicates either that tiny animals in the plankton are feeding on the algae, or that massive growth of algae -- an algal bloom -- has occurred, said Jennifer DeBose, a UC Davis graduate student and now a researcher with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico.

Once released from the ocean into the atmosphere, derivatives of DMSP promote cloud formation, so clouds reflect more sunlight back into space and cool the Earth.

These sulfur compounds are also known to serve as odor signals to marine organisms and are likely to play an equally important role in marine ecology, said Gabrielle Nevitt, professor of neurobiology, physiology and behavior at UC Davis and senior author on the study. The researchers wanted to know if reef fish also respond to these chemicals.

DeBose released plumes of DMSP at low concentrations on reefs off the Caribbean island of Curacao, Netherlands Antilles.

"It was pretty impressive," she said. "We would be surrounded by hundreds of fish for up to 60 minutes." The plumes mostly attracted fish known to feed on plankton, such as brown chromis and Creole wrasse, and the researchers noted that these fish were mostly arriving from down-current as if they were following a plume of scent.

The fish are using scent to "listen" to the interaction between plant plankton and their predators, DeBose said.

"They're not smelling food, but other cues that might lead them to food," she said.

DMSP is also given off by zooxanthellae, one-celled organisms that live inside coral polyps and allow them to photosynthesize. Stressed or damaged coral can lose its zooxanthellae and become "bleached," Nevitt said.

"DMSP is the smell of a productive, healthy reef," she said.

DMSP has mostly been studied in the context of atmospheric chemistry and global climate regulation, and not as a signaling molecule, Nevitt said. A better understanding of its effects could help in the recovery of damaged reefs, and understanding the links between climate change and the biological realm.

Sean Lema, Assistant Professor of Biology and Marine Biology, Center for Marine Science of the University of North Carolina in Wilmington, is also an author on the paper, published in the March 7 issue of the journal Science. The work was funded by the American Museum of Natural History and the Philanthropic Educational Organization.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - Davis. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of California - Davis. "Breath Of The Ocean Links Fish Feeding, Reefs, Climate." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 March 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080306183149.htm>.
University of California - Davis. (2008, March 11). Breath Of The Ocean Links Fish Feeding, Reefs, Climate. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080306183149.htm
University of California - Davis. "Breath Of The Ocean Links Fish Feeding, Reefs, Climate." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080306183149.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

AP (July 30, 2014) At least 20 New Jersey residents have tested positive for chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that has spread through the Caribbean. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Newsy (July 30, 2014) The Center for Science in the Public Interest released its 2014 list of single meals with whopping calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins