Blue ecosystems

Check out this new, interactive UNEP-WCMC blue ecosystems website covering #coral reefs, kelp forests, mangroves, and seagrass meadows


Considering where sea temperatures are headed โ€“ both long term and particularly this year โ€“ the best time to act was 20 years ago, but the second-best time to act is now.

What are we as a global community going to do about it?

And is what we’re doing right now (30% protections/restoration/etc.) enough?

๐Ÿฌ ๐Ÿชธ ๐Ÿฆญ ๐Ÿฆž ๐Ÿฆ‘ ๐Ÿฆˆ ๐Ÿฆฆ ๐Ÿš ๐Ÿ‹ ๐Ÿ™ ๐Ÿก ๐Ÿฆ€ ๐Ÿ 

Even with high sea surface temperatures in recent years, 2023 looks to become a massive heat anomaly. But is this anomalous anymore?

A prickly situation

Saguaro cacti ๐ŸŒต are an important part of the biotic community in the Sonoran Desert ๐Ÿœ๏ธ. They are also a vital part of the diet of Indigenous people in the area.

Saguaros require a specific sequence of monsoons and dry spells to blossom and reproduce. Due to climate change-related shifts in weather conditions, the mature individuals are no longer reproducing. They are dying without being replaced.

The IUCN currently lists them as “least concern” but also “declining” with the most recent assessment from 2017. I wonder if this will be changing soon?

See also:



An old-growth saguaro at sunset in AZ. Saguaros can live for 100+ years. Photo by Ray Redstone (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Phylometabolomics (and glass sponges)

When I teach my invertebrate zoology course, we talk only very briefly about glass sponges, despite the fact that they’re super cool.

In this new paper the authors describe some incredible glass sponge #biodiversity off the coast of New Zealand. They used standard methods (morphology, genetics). But they also used phylometabolomics โ€“ that is, they successfully classified specimens based on metabolites in their tissues. That’s new to me!


OA paper ๐Ÿ”—

An array of glass sponges shown in a figure from the linked paper.

Airborne environmental DNA (eDNA) ๐Ÿงฌ ๐Ÿฆ‡

Here’s a cool new environmental DNA (eDNA) paper where the researchers (Garrett et al. 2023) used airborne DNA to detect bats in their roosts.

Title: Out of thin air: surveying tropical bat roosts through air sampling of eDNA

OA ๐Ÿ”—

All of the detected bats (some rather rare) are known from previous work in the area. The authors also note non-target eDNA that likely drifted into some roosts (e.g. cow eDNA). However in some cases the non-target eDNA detections likely were from species actually associating with bats.

eDNA is a great method for detecting hard-to-access species, and this is a good demonstration of its utility.

Fig. 2 from the linked page showing the bat species that the authors detected using eDNA methodology.

SpaceX failure, conservation failure

Remember that failed #SpaceX #launch last week?

Another big failure was that of the #FAA and SpaceX to protect the abundant and vulnerable #wildlife in the area.

Great article:


SpaceXโ€™s #Boca #Chica facility sits amid one of the most unique #natural #habitats in the northern hemisphere. The area is home to countless #endangered #species and provides a wintering home to the #piping #plover and #red #knot.

Piping plover (CC by Andy Witchger)

Put into context, human hearing is nearly instantly and permanently damaged at 120 dB; your eardrums will rupture at 130 dB. Birds are likely even more sensitive to high sound exposure.

Space research is great, but if it can’t be done in a way that takes care of this planet, it shouldn’t be done.

Red knot (CC by Hans Hillewaert)