Study of Pacific predators shows importance of biological “hotspots”

Blue WhaleNEWPORT, Ore. – An unprecedented decade-long study of apex predators in the Pacific Ocean found a wider range of distribution among some species than previously thought, unknown relationships between other species, and the importance of biological “hotspots” to the survival of most of these sea creatures.

The field program, dubbed Tagging of Pacific Predators – or TOPP – looked at 23 species from 2000-09 and included researchers from multiple institutions.

Results of the study are being published this week in the journal Nature.

“One thing that quickly became apparent is that there are many similarities among top predators in the California Current System,” said Bruce Mate, a former Sea Grant specialist who directs the Marine Mammal Institute at Oregon State University and co-authored the study. “There is a strong overlap in territory, for example, between blue whales and tuna. Blue whales eat krill; the tuna eat fish that eat the krill.

“But the krill, and the ocean conditions that promote its abundance, are key to both species,” added Mate, who directed the cetacean portion of the TOPP study. “When there are hotspots of krill or other food, the apex predators need to find them.”

Read more from OSU News & Research Communication…

(Photo credit: Bruce Mate/OSU News & Research Communication)

Sea Grant community assistance on climate changes: new article

The Western Rural Development Center’s June issue of its Rural Connections magazine focuses on “climate change adaptations” and features a story about Sea Grant assistance in two Oregon coast communities dealing with effects of a changing climate. The communities aren’t named in the article [download the pdf] because the focus is on the different approaches taken in them, labelled for contrast as “classical” and “jazz.”

“Adapting to climate change will likely require a variety of approaches, as every community will have different needs, priorities, and resources,” write Joe Cone, Jenna Borberg, and Miriah Russo. “Outreach and engagement professionals have a variety of methodologies that can be employed,” and the Sea Grant authors hope the description of their approaches will stimulate their peers and ultimately lead to successful local climate adaptations.


Scientists: Existing regulations could help solve localized acidification

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Ocean acidification is a complex global problem because of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide, but there also are a number of local acidification “hotspots” plaguing coastal communities that don’t require international attention – and which can be addressed now.

A regulatory framework already is in place to begin mitigating these local hotspots, according to a team of scientists who outline their case in a forum article in the journal Science.

“Certainly, ocean acidification on a global level continues to be a challenge, but for local, non-fossil fuel-related events, community leaders don’t have to sit back and wait for a solution,” said George Waldbusser, an Oregon State University ecologist and co-author of the paper. “Many of these local contributions to acidity can be addressed through existing regulations.”

A number of existing federal environmental laws – including the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Coastal Zone Management Act – provide different layers of protection for local marine waters and offer officials avenues for mitigating the causes of local acidity. …