Testing for fish virus begins
Researchers are tying to determine if a deadly virus that can cause fish to bleed to death still poses a threat in Lake Winnebago.
They've developed an experimental blood test to detect antibodies in fish to gauge their immunity to viral hemorrhagic septicemia, better known as VHS. The disease was first detected about four years ago in Lake Winnebago. Personnel from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and researchers took 84 freshwater drum, a rough fish also known as sheepshead, from various locations on the lake last week for testing.
"Detecting antibodies to the virus is important because that will tell us much more about the infectivity of the virus and also tell us if the fish has been exposed to VHS in the past or just recently," said Anna Wilson, a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a researcher in the VHS project.
31 May 2011
Location: Lake Winnebago, Wisconsin, USA
Stomach disease in reptiles not due to greedy gulping
Snakes and reptiles are often heralded for their ability to gulp down their meals in one fell swoop, and although you might think this would play havoc with their digestion, new European research shows that it is in fact a parasitic infection that causes indigestion in snakes and lizards - rather than bad chewing habits.
The findings, made by a team of researchers from the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna, Austria, show that it is the well-known gastrointestinal disease cryptosporidiosis that can pose severe problems for reptiles.
The highly-contagious condition, which is not particularly prevalent among mammals, is very common among reptiles and can often be fatal. Scientists hope that by developing a means of early diagnosis they can curb spread of the disease.
Writing in the Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation, the team members explain how they attempted to overcome the diagnostic difficulties surrounding the condition by developing a test to identify the single-cell parasite cryptosporidia that causes onset of the disease. This enabled them to assess its prevalence in pet lizards and snakes.
01 June 2011
Cited Journal Article
Richter, B., et al. Detection of Cryptosporidium species in feces or gastric contents from snakes and lizards as determined by polymerase chain reaction analysis and partial sequencing of the 18S ribosomal RNA gene. J VET Diagn Inves 23:3, 430-435. doi: 10.1177/1040638711403415.
Ocean acidification may reduce reef diversity
A new study from University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science scientists Chris Langdon, Remy Okazaki and Nancy Muehllehner and colleagues from the Australian Institute of Marine Science and the Max-Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology in Germany concludes that ocean acidification, along with increased ocean temperatures, will likely severely reduce the diversity and resilience of coral reef ecosystems within this century.
The research team studied three natural volcanic CO2 seeps in Papua New Guinea to better understand how ocean acidification will impact coral reefs ecosystem diversity. The study details the effects of long-term exposure to high levels of carbon dioxide and low pH on Indo-Pacific coral reefs, a condition that is projected to occur by the end of the century as increased man-made CO2 emissions alter the current pH level of seawater, turning the oceans acidic.
"These 'champagne reefs' are natural analogs of how coral reefs may look in 100 years if ocean acidification conditions continue to get worse," said Langdon, UM Rosenstiel School professor and co-principal investigator of the study.
The study shows shifts in the composition of coral species and reductions in biodiversity and recruitment on the reef as pH declined from 8.1 to 7.8. The team also reports that reef development would cease at a pH below 7.7. The IPCC 4th Assessment Report estimates that by the end of the century, ocean pH will decline from the current level of 8.1 to 7.8, due to rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations.
1 June 2011
Cited Journal Article
Fabricius K, et al. Losers and winners in coral reefs acclimatized to elevated carbon dioxide concentrations. Nature Climate Change. doi:10.1038/nclimate1122
Humpback whale washes up on Island Beach State Park
When some beachgoers arrived at Island Beach State Park on Sunday morning for weekend festivities, they were greeted by a very unusual sight: a 29-foot humpback whale lying on the sand. The 3-year-old whale was dead when it hit the beach, said Bob Schoelkopf, director of the Marine Mammal Stranding Station in Brigantine.
Larry Ragonese, spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Protection, said the whale washed up at area A15, three miles south of bathing beach 2.
The mammal was the second to wash up on the Jersey Shore this year. Last week, the skeletal remains of a humpback whale washed up on the shores of Long Beach Island.
31 May 2011
Location: Island Beach State Park, New Jersey, USA - Map It
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