Continuing with our oceans and freshwater theme this week, let’s explore some of the related creature research. 

First, consider the fact that seahorses (Hippocampus erectus) are poor swimmers.  They lack the basic equipment to do so and instead evolved the type of tail needed to anchor in place.  So, how did they end up in every ocean if they couldn’t swim there? 

Researchers at the University of Konstanz and several teams from China recently published the results of a genomic dispersal study in the February 17, 2021 edition of Nature Communications. The team developed an evolutionary tree of 21 seahorse species.  From this information, they were then able to reconstruct the dispersal routes.

Because seahorses can’t swim, they were often at the mercy of ocean currents and storms to help them move between oceans.   With those hooked, prehensile tails, they were able to grab onto drifting materials, and away they went.  

Keep in mind that seahorses have been part of the earth’s ecosystem for at least 20 million years.  Factor in additional tectonic plate shifting through time and its subsequent impact on the ocean’s currents, and you begin to see how the seahorses ended up throughout the world.   

The original article is really fascinating.   Check it out here:  https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-021-21379-x

Or, for a less technical summary, try this one:  https://www.uni-konstanz.de/en/university/news-and-media/current-announcements/press-releases/press-releases-in-detail/wie-seepferdchen-seit-25-millionen-jahre-die-weltmeere-erobern/

 

Did you know that you can tell a fish’s personality from the way it swims?  A team of biologists and mathematicians from Swansea University and the University of Essex revealed some interesting data in the February 22, 2021update of Ecology and Evolution.

The subjects of their assessment were wild three‐spined stickleback fish (Gasterosteus aculeatus) which were caught from the campus pond and put into a large tank.  

Using high-resolution tracking techniques, the team monitored several movement and behavioral parameters.  They then looked for “interindividual differences.”  Some of these parameters include the directness of a travel path, burst (as in acceleration) frequency, and the amount of time spent near objects versus open spaces.  

There were definite differences between the fish. Of course, more research needs to be done before conclusions about personality traits can be drawn.

You can read more about this at:  https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/ece3.7275

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