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From the College of Natural Sciences
Oil Impairs Ability of Coral Reef Fish to Find Homes and Evade Predators

Oil Impairs Ability of Coral Reef Fish to Find Homes and Evade Predators

Damselfish, Chromis species. Photo credit: Jacob Johansen.

Just as one too many cocktails can lead a person to make bad choices, a few drops of oil can cause coral reef fish to make poor decisions, according to a paper published today in Nature Ecology & Evolution. A team of fisheries biologists led by Jacob Johansen and Andrew Esbaugh of The University of Texas Marine Science Institute have discovered that oil impacts the higher-order thinking of coral reef fish in a way that could prove dangerous for them—and for the coral reefs where they make their home.

Spying on Fish Love Calls Could Help Protect Them from Overfishing

Spying on Fish Love Calls Could Help Protect Them from Overfishing

Marine scientists have discovered a way to use the incredibly loud, distinctive sounds that fish make when they gather to spawn--not to catch them but to protect them. Illustration credit: Jenna Luecke/Univ. of Texas at Austin.

About a third of the world's fish stocks are being overfished, meaning they're being harvested faster than they can reproduce, and species that spawn seasonally in large groups are especially vulnerable, easy for fishers to locate and plucked from the water often before they've seeded the next generation.

Can Sound Save a Fish? (Audio)

Can Sound Save a Fish? (Audio)

Gulf Corvina look pretty ordinary—they're a couple of feet long and silvery. Yet the sounds they make—when millions get together to spawn—are a kind of wonder of the natural world. It's also why they are in danger.

UT Austin Receives $5.6M for Long-term Study of Alaska’s Arctic Coast

UT Austin Receives $5.6M for Long-term Study of Alaska’s Arctic Coast

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has made a $5.6 million, five-year grant to The University of Texas at Austin to establish a Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) program and site along the northern Alaskan coast. Research at the site will focus on changes occurring both on land and in the ocean that affect Arctic ecosystems over time. This research could help native communities anticipate possible impacts of future climate changes on the fish and wildlife they depend on.

Discovery of New Microbes Sheds Light on How Complex Life Arose

Discovery of New Microbes Sheds Light on How Complex Life Arose

An international team of scientists, including researchers from Uppsala University in Sweden, The University of Texas at Austin and elsewhere, discovered several new microbes carrying genes that until now were thought to be unique to a group of more complex life forms including humans. This finding supports a decades-old hypothesis that complex life first arose from the merger of two simpler life forms.

The Mighty Copepod (Audio)

The Mighty Copepod (Audio)

These teeny shrimp-like critters at the bottom of the ocean food web seem totally unimportant. But throw in an oil spill and some well-intentioned human intervention and they can have a huge impact, right up to the top of the food web, including sea turtles, dolphins and humans. Meet the mighty copepod.

Arctic Found to Play Unexpectedly Large Role in Removing Nitrogen

Arctic Found to Play Unexpectedly Large Role in Removing Nitrogen

Areas of the Arctic play a larger role than previously thought in the global nitrogen cycle—the process responsible for keeping a critical element necessary for life flowing between the atmosphere, the land and oceans. The finding is reported in a new study of the continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean published Wednesday in the journal Nature Communications.

Clever Fish Keep Cool

Clever Fish Keep Cool

Ocean warming is occurring at such a rapid rate that fish are searching for cooler waters to call home.

Marine Science Graduate Student Awarded Nationally Recognized Fellowship

Marine Science Graduate Student Awarded Nationally Recognized Fellowship

Arley Muth, a first-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Marine Science, was one of 52 graduate students nationwide who were recently awarded a Science to Achieve Results (STAR) Graduate Fellowship from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Mammal Magnetism of Interest to Marine Scientists

Mammal Magnetism of Interest to Marine Scientists

Weddell seals spend 95 percent of their time swimming under Antarctic sea ice. They can dive to great depths and hold their breath for stretches as long as an hour at a time, even while pursuing their prey at rapid speeds. Despite this physical prowess, the seals are just as vulnerable as humans to drowning if they can't find a breathing hole in the underwater darkness. 

Genetic Potential of Oil-Eating Bacteria from the BP Oil Spill Decoded

Genetic Potential of Oil-Eating Bacteria from the BP Oil Spill Decoded

Microbiologists have cracked the genetic code of how bacteria broke down oil to help clean up the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The findings, published in the journal Nature Microbiology, reveal that some bacteria have far greater potential for consuming oil than was previously known. 

Scientists Unveil the Most Comprehensive Genomic Tree of Life

Scientists Unveil the Most Comprehensive Genomic Tree of Life

An international team of researchers, including Brett Baker from The University of Texas Marine Science Institute, has made the most comprehensive tree of life based on genomes, greatly expanding our view of the diversity of life on the planet. Using genetic data collected in recent years, the researchers found a group of bacteria that are so diverse genetically that they represent half of all the diversity of bacteria on the planet.

Scientists Decode Genomes to Infer Lifestyles of Subsurface Microbes

Scientists Decode Genomes to Infer Lifestyles of Subsurface Microbes

An international team led by microbiologists Brett Baker of The University of Texas at Austin and Thijs Ettema of Uppsala University in Sweden have discovered genetic evidence that a group of subsurface microbes consumes carbon monoxide, a weak greenhouse gas, to produce energy. These microbes, first discovered in a gold mine two miles below South Africa, live in environments devoid of oxygen and light. So far, no one has successfully grown them in the laboratory, so it wasn't clear how these microbes generate energy.

Diet in Fish Affects Offspring's Metabolism

Diet in Fish Affects Offspring's Metabolism

Scientists at The University of Texas Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas have discovered that in fish, just like in humans, the nutrients that are passed from a mother to her offspring can change the way her offspring develop and make a big difference in how well they do in life.

Visualizing Science 2015: Beautiful Images From College Research

Visualizing Science 2015: Beautiful Images From College Research

​As part of a continuing tradition, we invited faculty, staff and students in the College of Natural Sciences community to send us images this past spring that celebrated the magnificent beauty of science and the scientific process. Our goal was to find those moments where science and art become one and the same.