Is Canada Still a ‘Global Steward of the Seas’?

Written by on November 7, 2013 in Other News

Daily Summary

The nitrogen puzzle in the oceans
Every organism needs nitrogen to live and grow, but many don’t have the ability to obtain the nitrogen they need from the atmosphere because they can’t use molecular nitrogen (N2). This means that the organisms have to rely on a supply of nitrogen that has been ‘fixed’ by others. Fixed nitrogen is often a limiting factor of primary production in the environment. Just as there are organisms that change unusable N2 to fixed nitrogen, there are also organisms that change fixed nitrogen back to N2. In the ocean, the loss of fixed nitrogen is most common in oxygen minimum zones (OMZs) where oxygen is rapidly consumed, almost to completion. Scientists are concerned that climate change will cause OMZs to expand, increasing the amount of nitrogen lost from the oceans, which will have consequences for primary productivity. Researchers are looking into which microbial processes are responsible for different parts of nitrogen-loss in order to determine how the processes will change along with the climate.

Lighthouse along the coast of New Brunswick, Canada.

Lighthouse along the coast of New Brunswick, Canada. Photo credit: archer10 (Dennis) via photopin cc.

Ocean Science Report: Canada At Risk Of Losing World-Leader Status
Canada contains the most coastline in the world, stretching along three oceans. The nation has long been known as a global steward of the seas, but a new report reveals that may no longer be the case. The report by the Council of Canadian Academies states that while government funding for ocean science is increasing, a lack of coordination limits the usefulness of research being done. Canada has no national strategy or vision for ocean science and there as a big information gap, making it difficult to get a solid picture of the information and resources available.

Simple study advances seafloor ecological modeling
Animals living on the seafloor are grouped into classes based on weight; meiofauna are smaller animals and macrofauna are bigger animals. A long accepted theory states that as animal size increases, so does biomass, but a new study challenges that theory. The study shows that this pattern may simply be a result of the sampling methods used. Instead, seafloor community biomass increases through logarithmic body weight class. This simplified relationship will help improve seafloor modeling efforts and will make studying seafloor ecosystems much easier.

Copyright © 2013 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .


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