College of Science and Engineering Recent publications in Science and Engineering

Recent publications in Science and Engineering

Sloan, Sean, Campbell, Mason, Alamgir, Mohammed, Egerton, Jayden, Ishida, Yoko, Senn, Nicole, Huther, Jaime, and Laurance, William F. (2019) Hidden challenges for conservation and development along the Trans-Papuan economic corridor. Environmental Science & Policy, 92. pp. 98-106.
The island of New Guinea harbours one of the world’s largest tracts of intact tropical forest, with 41% of its land area in Indonesian Papua (Papua and Papua Barat Provinces). Within Papua, the advent of a 4000-km ‘development corridor’ reflects a national agenda promoting primary-resource extraction and economic integration. Papua, a resource frontier containing vast forest and mineral resources, increasingly exhibits new conservation and development dynamics suggestive of the earlier frontier development phases of other Indonesian regions. Local environmental and social considerations have been discounted in the headlong rush to establish the corridor and secure access to natural resources. Peatland and forest conversion are increasingly extensive within the epicentres of economic development. Deforestation frontiers are emerging along parts of the expanding development corridor, including within the Lorentz World Heritage Site. Customary land rights for Papua’s indigenous people remain an afterthought to resource development, fomenting conditions contrary to conservation and sustainable development. A centralised development agenda within Indonesia underlies virtually all of these changes. We recommend specific actions to address the environmental, economic, and socio-political challenges of frontier development along the Papuan corridor.

Pirrota, Vanessa, Grech, Alana, Jonsen, Ian D., Laurance, William F., and Harcourt, Robert G. (2019) Consequences of global shipping traffic for marine giants. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 17 (1). pp. 39-47.
Shipping routes in the ocean are analogous to terrestrial roads, in that they are regularly used thoroughfares that concentrate the movement of vessels between multiple locations. We applied a terrestrial road ecology framework to examine the ecological impacts of increased global shipping on "marine giants" (ie great whales, basking sharks [Cetorhinus maximus], and whale sharks [Rhincodon typus]). This framework aided in identifying where such "marine roads" and marine giants are likely to interact and the consequences of those interactions. We also reviewed known impacts of shipping routes on these species, and then applied the road ecology framework to detect unknown and potentially threatening processes. In the marine environment, such a framework can be used to incorporate knowledge of existing shipping impacts into management practices, thereby reducing the detrimental effects of future expansion of shipping routes on marine giants.

Rasalam, R., Bandaranaike, S., and Anushka, K. (2019) Bridging the gap in health professionals from novice to advanced practitioner: a practical framework. In: Abstracts from the 16th Asia Pacific Medical Education Conference. p. 124. From: APMEC 2019: 16th Asia Pacific Medical Education Conference, 9-13 January 2019, Singapore.
The objective of the AHCD was to facilitate the successful transition of an allied health professional from novice to advanced practitioner while focussing on key competencies and levels of autonomy through reflective practice and emotional and social sensitivity to the workplace. The AHCD facilitates this transition via self-directed learning and reflective practice. The philosophy presented in the framework may be applicable to all health care professionals.

Barrios-Garrido, H., Wildermann, N., Diedrich, A., and Hamann, M. (2019) Conflicts and solutions related to marine turtle conservation initiatives in the Caribbean basin: identifying new challenges. Ocean and Coastal Management, 171. pp. 19-27.
Conflicts among and between local, national, regional and international stakeholders involved in marine turtle conservation are increasing. Often, they arise because of different socio-economic backgrounds of the people or groups involved. Here, we identified and assessed the conservation-based conflicts occurring in 24 of the 39 Caribbean countries, including their frequency, level of severity, number of stakeholders' groups involved, the degree to which they hinder conservation goals, and potential solutions. Using a cross-sectional social survey, we evaluated the presence and details of conservation conflicts provided by 72 respondents. The respondents included conservation-based project leaders, researchers, people involved in policy-based decision-making, conservation volunteers (community-based conservation groups), and species experts with experience working on marine turtle conservation programs in the Caribbean. The respondents identified 136 conflicts, and we grouped them into 16 different categories. The most commonly mentioned causes of conflicts were: 1) the ‘lack of enforcement by local authorities to support conservation-based legislation or programs’ (18%); 2) ‘legal consumption of turtles by one sector of community clashing the conservation aspirations of other sectors of community (14%); and 3) ’variable enforcement of legislation to limit/prohibit use across range states of the species (10%). From our data it is also apparent that illicit activities in the region are also likely to impact the future success of conservation or monitoring based projects and programs. Overall, an exhaustive review was carried out, and the potential solutions were gathered. Due to the level of severity (physical violence) that some conflicts have reached, achieving solutions will be challenging without mediation, mutual cooperation around shared values, and adaptive management arrangements. Achieving this will require combinations of bottom up and top down collaborative governance approaches.

Sanderson, Stephen, Philippa, Bronson, Vamvounis, George, Burn, Paul L., and White, Ronald D. (2019) Understanding charge transport in Ir(ppy)₃:CBP OLED films. Journal of Chemical Physics, 150 (9). 094110.
Ir(ppy)₃:CBP blends have been widely studied as the emissive layer in organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs), yet crucial questions about charge transport within the layer remain unaddressed. Recent molecular dynamics simulations show that the Ir(ppy)₃ molecules are not isolated from each other, but at concentrations of as low as 5 wt. % can be part of connected pathways. Such connectivity raises the question of how the iridium(iii) complexes contribute to long-range charge transport in the blend. We implement a kinetic Monte Carlo transport model to probe the guest concentration dependence of charge mobility and show that distinct minima appear at approximately 10 wt. % Ir(ppy)₃ due to an increased number of trap states that can include interconnected complexes within the blend film. The depth of the minima is shown to be dependent on the electric field and to vary between electrons and holes due to their different trapping depths arising from the different ionization potentials and electron affinities of the guest and host molecules. Typical guest-host OLEDs use a guest concentration below 10 wt. % to avoid triplet-triplet annihilation, so these results suggest that optimal device performance is achieved when there is significant charge trapping on the iridium(iii) complex guest molecules and minimum interactions of the emissive chromophores that can lead to triplet-triplet annihilation.

Wismer, Sharon, Tebbett, Sterling B., Streit, Robert P., and Bellwood, David R. (2019) Spatial mismatch in fish and coral loss following 2016 mass coral bleaching. Science of the Total Environment, 650. pp. 1487-1498.
Record-breaking temperatures between 2015 and 2016 led to unprecedented pan-tropical bleaching of scleractinian corals. On the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), the effects were most pronounced in the remote, northern region, where over 90% of reefs exhibited bleaching. Mass bleaching that results in widespread coral mortality represents a major disturbance event for reef organisms, including reef fishes. Using 133 replicate 1 m(2) quadrats, we quantified short-term changes in coral communities and spatially associated reef fish assemblages, at Lizard Island, Australia, in response to the 2016 mass bleaching event. Quadrats were spatially matched, permitting repeated sampling of fish and corals in the same areas: before, during and 6 months after mass bleaching. As expected, we documented a significant decrease in live coral cover. Subsequent decreases in fish abundance were primarily driven by coral-associated damselfishes. However, these losses, were relatively minor (37% decrease), especially compared to the magnitude of Acropora loss (>95% relative decrease). Furthermore, at a local, 1 m(2) scale, we documented a strong spatial mismatch between fish and coral loss. Post-bleaching fish losses were not highest in quadrats that experienced the greatest loss of live coral. Nor were fish losses associated with a proliferation of cyanobacteria. Several sites did, however, exhibit increases in fish abundance suggesting substantial spatial movements. These results challenge common assumptions and emphasize the need for caution when ascribing causality to observed patterns of fish loss at larger spatial scales. Our results highlight the potential for short-term resilience to climate change, in fishes, through local migration and habitat plasticity. (C) 2018 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Hein, Margaux Y., Birtles, Alastair, Willis, Bette L., Gardiner, Naomi, Beeden, Roger, and Marshall, Nadine A. (2019) Coral restoration: socio-ecological perspectives of benefits and limitations. Biological Conservation, 229. pp. 14-25.
Coral restoration is increasingly used globally as a management tool to minimize accelerating coral reef degradation resulting from climate change. Yet, the science of coral restoration is still very focused on ecological and technical considerations, impeding the understanding of how coral restoration can be used to improve reef resilience in the context of socio-ecological systems. Here, we visited four well-established coral restoration projects in different regions of the world (Thailand, Maldives, Florida Keys, and US Virgin Islands), and conducted key-informant interviews to characterize local stakeholder's perceptions of the key benefits and limitations associated with restoration efforts. Our results reveal that perceptions around coral reef restoration encompass far more than ecological considerations, and include all four dimensions of sustainability: ecological, social, economic, and governance, suggesting that effective coral restoration should be guided by the principles of sustainability science. Socio-cultural benefits were the most frequently mentioned (72.4% of all respondents), while technical problems were the most common theme for limitations of coral restoration efforts (58.3% of the respondents). Participants also revealed some key points likely to improve the outcomes of coral restoration efforts such as the need to better embrace socio-cultural dimensions in goal setting, evaluate ecological outcomes more broadly, secure long-term funding and improve management and logistics of day to day practices. While we identify several important limitations of coral reef restoration, particularly around amateur workforces and limited involvement of local communities, our results suggest that coral restoration can be used as a powerful conservation education tool to provide hope, enhance agency, promote stewardship and strengthen coral reef conservation strategies.

Maxwell, Stephen J., Dekkers, Aart M., Rymer, Tasmin L., and Congdon, Bradley C. (2019) Laevistrombus Abbott 1960 (Gastropoda: Strombidae): Indian and southwest Pacific species. Zootaxa, 4555 (4). pp. 491-506.
Here we evaluate the taxonomy of the marine gastropod genus Laevistrombus Abbott, 1960 and determine that there are five extant species within this genus, three of which occur in the southwest Pacific. Comparative analyses of this complex have been problematic due to the lack of designated type material. Therefore, we present the type material for L. canarium Linnaeus, 1758; L. taeniatus Quoy & Gaimard, 1834; and L. vanikorensis Quoy & Gaimard, 1834. Current taxonomy has L. vanikorensis absorbed within the L. canarium complex. L. taeniatus is generally held to be a synonym of L. turturella Röding, 1789. We demonstrate that both L. taeniatus and L. vanikorensis are distinct species and reinstate both to species level. Our revision also notes the significant variability in early teleoconch structure within the geographic range of L. vanikorensis, and highlights the need for a greater revision of Laevistrombus, given the diversity in early teleoconch morphology present in southwest Pacific species.

Roy, Dilip Kumar, and Datta, Bithin (2019) Adaptive management of coastal aquifers using entropy-set pair analysis-based three-dimensional sequential monitoring network design. Journal of Hydrologic Engineering, 24 (3). 04018072.
A three-dimensional compliance monitoring network design methodology is presented to develop an adaptive and sequentially modified management policy that intends to improve optimal and justifiable use of groundwater resources in coastal aquifers. In the first step, an ensemble metamodel-based multiobjective prescriptive model is developed using a coupled simulation-optimization approach to derive a set of Pareto optimal groundwater extraction strategies. Prediction uncertainty of metamodels is addressed by utilizing a weighted average ensemble using set pair analysis. In the second step, a monitoring network is designed for evaluating the compliance of the implemented strategies with the prescribed management goals due to possible uncertainties associated with field-scale application of the proposed management policy. Optimal monitoring locations are obtained by maximizing Shannon's entropy between the saltwater concentrations at the selected potential locations. Performance of the proposed three-dimensional sequential compliance monitoring network design is assessed for an illustrative multilayered coastal aquifer study area. The performance evaluations show that sequential improvements of optimal management strategy is possible by using saltwater concentrations measured at the proposed optimal compliance monitoring locations. Therefore, the salinity concentration data collected at the designed compliance monitoring wells can be used to collect feedback information in terms of salinity concentrations. This feedback information can be applied to improve the initially prescribed optimal groundwater extraction patterns while keeping the original management goal intact.

Rudge, Samuel L., and Kosov, Daniel S. (2019) Nonrenewal statistics in quantum transport from the perspective of first-passage and waiting time distributions. Physical Review B, 99 (11). 115426.
The waiting time distribution has, in recent years, proven to be a useful statistical tool for characterizing transport in nanoscale quantum transport. In particular, as opposed to moments of the distribution of transferred charge, which have historically been calculated in the long-time limit, waiting times are able to detect nonrenewal behavior in mesoscopic systems. They have failed, however, to correctly incorporate backtunneling events. Recently, a method has been developed that can describe unidirectional and bidirectional transport on an equal footing: the distribution of first-passage times. Rather than the time between successive electron tunnelings, the first passage refers to the first time the number of extra electrons in the drain reaches +1. Here, we demonstrate the differences between first-passage time statistics and waiting time statistics in transport scenarios where the waiting time either cannot correctly reproduce the higher-order current cumulants or cannot be calculated at all. To this end, we examine electron transport through a molecule coupled to two macroscopic metal electrodes. We model the molecule with strong electron-electron and electron-phonon interactions in three regimes: (i) sequential tunneling and cotunneling for a finite bias voltage through the Anderson model, (ii) sequential tunneling with no temperature gradient and a bias voltage through the Holstein model, and (iii) sequential tunneling at zero bias voltage and a temperature gradient through the Holstein model. We show that for each transport scenario, backtunneling events play a significant role; consequently, the waiting time statistics do not correctly predict the renewal and nonrenewal behavior, whereas the first-passage time distribution does.

O'Brien, Paul, Webster, Nicole S., Miller, David J., and Bourne, David G. (2019) Host-microbe coevolution: applying evidence from model systems to complex marine invertebrate holobionts. mBio, 10 (1). e02241-18.
Marine invertebrates often host diverse microbial communities, making it difficult to identify important symbionts and to understand how these communities are structured. This complexity has also made it challenging to assign microbial functions and to unravel the myriad of interactions among the microbiota. Here we propose to address these issues by applying evidence from model systems of host-microbe coevolution to complex marine invertebrate microbiomes. Coevolution is the reciprocal adaptation of one lineage in response to another and can occur through the interaction of a host and its beneficial symbiont. A classic indicator of coevolution is codivergence of host and microbe, and evidence of this is found in both corals and sponges. Metabolic collaboration between host and microbe is often linked to codivergence and appears likely in complex holobionts, where microbial symbionts can interact with host cells through production and degradation of metabolic compounds. Neutral models are also useful to distinguish selected microbes against a background population consisting predominately of random associates. Enhanced understanding of the interactions between marine invertebrates and their microbial communities is urgently required as coral reefs face unprecedented local and global pressures and as active restoration approaches, including manipulation of the microbiome, are proposed to improve the health and tolerance of reef species. On the basis of a detailed review of the literature, we propose three research criteria for examining coevolution in marine invertebrates: (i) identifying stochastic and deterministic components of the microbiome, (ii) assessing codivergence of host and microbe, and (iii) confirming the intimate association based on shared metabolic function.

Diedrich, Amy, Benham, Claudia, Pandihau, Lina, and Sheaves, Marcus (2019) Social capital plays a central role in transitions to sportfishing tourism in small-scale fishing communities in Papua New Guinea. Ambio, 48 (4). pp. 385-396.
Growing concerns about pressures of global change on small-scale fishing communities have resulted in a proliferation of livelihood diversification initiatives linked to tourism. Where the focus is often on the role of financial, physical, and human capital in influencing the uptake of new opportunities, we argue for more consideration of the role of social capital. We implemented 157 household-level surveys in small-scale fishing communities in Papua New Guinea and modelled the influence of social and other capital assets on people’s perceptions of how easy it would be to become involved in sportfishing tourism. Social capital had a stronger influence relative to other forms of capital, with perceptions of reciprocity and satisfaction with leadership being the most influential aspects. Based on these results, we stress the importance of developing strategies aimed at understanding, building, and maintaining social capital and related social dynamics when implementing livelihood diversification initiatives.

Marchese, Gioele, Fitzgibbon, Quinn P., Trotter, Andrew J., Carter, Chris G., Jones, Clive M., and Smith, Gregory G. (2019) The influence of flesh ingredients format and krill meal on growth and feeding behaviour of juvenile tropical spiny lobster Panulirus ornatus. Aquaculture, 499. pp. 128-139.
One of the main challenges for spiny lobster aquaculture is the successful development of formulated feeds that are attractive, readily consumed by lobsters and promote optimal growth and survival. In a 54-day growth trial, we investigated the performance of four moist formulated feeds containing A) non-homogenised flesh ingredients; B) fish meal only; C) 10% krill meal; or D) homogenised flesh ingredients; and a reference diet of shucked blue mussel (Mytilus galloprovincialis) flesh, on growth, nutritional condition and feeding behaviour of juvenile tropical spiny lobster (Panulirus ornatus) reared either communally or individually. Growth and survival achieved by lobsters fed mussel were significantly higher than all other treatments. However, lobsters fed the formulated feed containing 10% krill meal (treatment C) and reared communally had a significantly higher growth, survival and feeding performance when compared to the formulated feeds with inclusion of non-homogenised and homogenised flesh ingredients (treatments A and D). The highest levels of feed interaction and pellet consumption among the formulated feeds were also recorded for treatment C. We demonstrated that the inclusion of krill meal in formulated feeds provides a benefit when compared to the inclusion of the flesh ingredients. Flesh ingredient format (homogenised or non-homogenised) had no effect on growth performance of lobsters, suggesting that the process of homogenisation of flesh ingredients does not provide any benefit in promoting feed consumption. Furthermore, time-series photography analysis trials showed that all the formulated feeds only promoted a feeding response within the first 2-3 h post-feeding, whereas mussel retained its attractiveness throughout the feeding period. These results suggest that the prolonged attractiveness remains an impediment for formulated feed performance in lobster culture. The present study also showed that growth performance and feeding response were higher in lobsters reared communally than individually. As observed in other spiny lobster species, it is likely that social interactions in communal housing may have provided cues that stimulated feeding responses and promoted higher growth rates.

Gomes, Giana Bastos, Hutson, Kate S., Domingos, Jose A., Infante Villamil, Sandra, Huerlimann, Roger, Miller, Terrence L., and Jerry, Dean (2019) Parasitic protozoan interactions with bacterial microbiome in a tropical fish farm. Aquaculture, 502. pp. 196-201.
The bacterial microbiome is an important component of any aquaculture environment. The interaction between the bacterial microbiome and other microorganisms (e.g. parasites, viruses, or other bacteria) in aquaculture systems can prevent or contribute to disease outbreaks. This study characterised the bacterial composition associated with the abundance of a ciliated protozoan parasite, Chilodonella hexasticha, in gills and freshwater ponds of barramundi, Lates calcarifer, farm in tropical Queensland, Australia, over one year. An environmental DNA (eDNA) approach was used to estimate the abundance of C. hexasticha (copies/μl) in water through SSUrDNA gene qPCR and the relative abundance of bacterial species in water and fish gills through 16S rRNA V3 and V4 metabarcoding. The overall bacterial community diversity, dominated by Actinobacteria (42%), Proteobacteria (28%), Bacteroidetes (10%) and Cyanobacteria (6%), was stable among ponds over the study period (p > .05). Of those that could be identified to species, Flavobacterium columnare, Veillonella dispar and Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus abundance correlated with both high C. hexasticha levels in pond water and high observed fish mortalities (p < .05). Results also revealed significantly higher levels of F. columnare, B. bacteriovorus,Plesiomonas shigelloides, Prostecobactor debontii and Oxalobacter formigenes (p < .05) in gills of fish with high infection levels of C. hexasticha compared to fish with no detected parasite infection. This study demonstrated, for the first time, a link between increased parasitic ciliate abundance, bacterial composition and fish mortalities in a freshwater aquaculture environment and the application of eDNA to investigate pathogen, host and environment interactions.

Eurich, J.G., Matley, J.K., Baker, R., McCormick, M.I., and Jones, G.P. (2019) Stable isotope analysis reveals trophic diversity and partitioning in territorial damselfishes on a low-latitude coral reef. Marine Biology, 166 (2). 17.
Investigating the niche overlap of ecologically similar species can reveal the mechanisms that drive spatial partitioning in high-diversity systems. Understanding how food resources are used and whether the diets of neighboring species are different are particularly important when considering the coexistence and functional role of species. Territorial damselfish on coral reefs are considered to be herbivores that defend algal mats from other food competitors. However, this guild contains numerous small species whose functional role and dietary diversification is poorly understood. Here, the relationships between diet and spatial distribution of seven intermediate-sized territorial damselfishes at Kimbe Bay, Papua New Guinea (5°30'S, 150°05'E) were investigated. These species partition habitat across three reef zones with distinct patterns of fine-scale distribution. It was predicted that neighboring species partition food resources with minimal dietary overlap. Examination of isotope ratios of carbon and nitrogen delineated three distinct feeding strategies: pelagic, reef-based, and an intermediate group feeding on both prey types. None of the species appear to be strict herbivores. Adjacent species exhibited high–intermediate trophic niche partitioning when examining pelagic versus reef-based production sources, with two species previously described as benthic herbivores exhibiting pelagic feeding. The study demonstrates that diet reinforces the patterns of spatial partitioning and coexistence among ecologically similar damselfishes. These findings add to a growing view that interspecific differences among similar species are lost when categorizing species into broad functional classifications, and that previous studies suggesting that territorial damselfish are strictly reef-based feeders may not be applicable in all systems or for all species.

Baker, Ronald, Barnett, Adam, Bradley, Michael, Abrantes, Katya, and Sheaves, Marcus (2019) Contrasting seascape use by a coastal fish assemblage: a multi-method approach. Estuaries and Coasts, 42 (1). pp. 292-307.
Understanding the range of habitats needed to complete life-cycles is essential for the effective conservation and management of species. We combined otolith microchemistry, acoustic tracking, and underwater video to determine patterns of seascape use by an assemblage of tropical snappers, including two little-known species of high economic importance, the Papuan black bass (Lutjanus goldiei) and spot-tail snapper (Lutjanus fuscescens). All species appeared to have marine larval phases, and post-settlement distributions broadly overlapped across the coastal seascape. However, species and life stages were distributed along a gradient from freshwater to coastal waters. Lutjanus fuscescens is primarily a freshwater species post-settlement, but larger individuals move into brackish estuaries and even coastal waters at times. Lutjanus goldiei appear to recruit to low salinity or freshwater areas. Larger individuals tend to have home-ranges centred on brackish estuaries, while making regular movements into both coastal waters and freshwater. Lutjanus argentimaculatus also ranged widely from fresh to coastal waters, but juveniles were most common in the saline parts of estuaries. Ontogenetic shifts by L. argentimaculatus were similar to those reported from other regions, despite vast differences in the spatial proximity of seascape components. The wide-ranging seascape movements of our target species highlight the importance of maintaining effective connectivity between marine, estuarine, and freshwaters in the region to maintain ecosystem function and support sustainable sport fisheries. The combined approaches resolved some of the ambiguities of individual methods and provide a powerful approach to understanding seascape use by coastal fishes.

Thorbjørnsen, Susanna Huneide, Moland, Even, Simpfendorfer, Colin, Heupel, Michelle, Knutsen, Halvor, and Olsen, Esben Moland (2019) Potential of a no-take marine reserve to protect home ranges of anadromous brown trout (Salmo trutta). Ecology and Evolution, 9 (1). pp. 417-426.
The extent to which no-take marine reserves can benefit anadromous species requires examination. Here, we used acoustic telemetry to investigate the spatial behavior of anadromous brown trout (sea trout, Salmo trutta) in relation to a small marine reserve (similar to 1.5 km(2)) located inside a fjord on the Norwegian Skagerrak coast. On average, sea trout spent 42.3 % (+/- 5.0% SE) of their time in the fjord within the reserve, a proportion similar to the area of the reserve relative to that of the fjord. On average, sea trout tagged inside the reserve received the most protection, although the level of protection decreased marginally with increasing home range size. Furthermore, individuals tagged outside the reserve received more protection with increasing home range size, potentially opposing selection toward smaller home range sizes inflicted on fish residing within reserves, or through selective fishing methods like angling. Monthly sea trout home ranges in the marine environment were on average smaller than the reserve, with a mean of 0.430 (+/- 0.0265 SE) km(2). Hence, the reserve is large enough to protect the full home range of some individuals residing in the reserve. Synthesis and applications: In general, the reserve protects sea trout to a varying degree depending on their individual behavior. These findings highlight evolutionary implications of spatial protection and can guide managers in the design of marine reserves and networks that preserve variation in target species' home range size and movement behavior.

West, Annie G., Waite, David W., Deines, Peter, Bourne, David G., Digby, Andrew, McKenzie, Valerie J., and Taylor, Michael W. (2019) The microbiome in threatened species conservation. Biological Conservation, 229. pp. 85-98.
As global biodiversity continues to reduce at an alarming rate, threatened species are increasingly being brought under intensive management or into captivity. However, current conservation management programmes are often impeded by poor animal health and low reproductive success. Microorganisms play vital roles in the growth and maintenance of healthy multicellular organisms, including neurological and immune system development, gut nutrition, and pathogen defence. The microbiome refers to the vast community of microorganisms, and their collective genes, that live on and within a host organism. An imbalance or breakdown of the microbiome may in some cases be associated with severe negative health consequences for the host. Factors such as habitat degradation and transition into captive breeding programmes can significantly alter the microbiome of threatened species, though the effects of such microbial community changes on health, fitness and ultimately survival of the animals remain poorly understood. This perspective article collates important microbiome research in threatened animals from around the world to make a case for the inclusion of microbial research in modern conservation practice.

Silva, C.N.S., Macdonald, H.S., Hadfield, M.G., Cryer, M., and Gardner, J.P.A. (2019) Ocean currents predict fine-scale genetic structure and source-sink dynamics in a marine invertebrate coastal fishery. ICES Journal of Marine Science. fsy201. (In Press)
Estimates of connectivity are vital for understanding population dynamics and for the design of spatial management areas. However, this is still a major challenge in the marine environment because the relative contributions of factors influencing connectivity amongst subpopulations are difficult to assess. This study combined population genetics with hydrodynamic modelling (Regional Ocean Modeling System, ROMS) to assess spatial and temporal exchange of individuals among subpopulations of the New Zealand scallop, Pecten novaezelandiae, within the Coromandel fishery area open to commercial fishing. Significant genetic differentiation was revealed among subpopulations with variable levels of recruitment. Connectivity, as assessed by ROMS, was a significant explanatory variable of genetic differentiation when accounting for the spatial dependency between locations. Although additional research is needed before source-sink population dynamics can be confidently used in management, these results imply that higher yields could be available from this fishery at lower risk of over-exploitation if the fishing of each subpopulation could be tailored to its contribution to recruitment, perhaps using subpopulation catch limits. This study highlights inter-annual patterns of connectivity, the importance of combining different methods for a better prediction of population dynamics, and how such an approach may contribute to management of living marine resources.

Whitelaw, Brooke L., Cooke, Ira R., Finn, Julian, Zenger, Kyall, and Strugnell, J.M. (2019) The evolution and origin of tetrodotoxin acquisition in the blue-ringed octopus (genus Hapalochlaena). Aquatic Toxicology, 206. pp. 114-122.
Tetrodotoxin is a potent non-proteinaceous neurotoxin, which is commonly found in the marine environment. Synthesised by bacteria, tetrodotoxin has been isolated from the tissues of several genera including pufferfish, salamanders and octopus. Believed to provide a defensive function, the independent evolution of tetrodotoxin sequestration is poorly understood in most species. Two mechanisms of tetrodotoxin resistance have been identified to date, tetrodotoxin binding proteins in the circulatory system and mutations to voltage gated sodium channels, the binding target of tetrodotoxin with the former potentially succeeding the latter in evolutionary time. This review focuses on the evolution of tetrodotoxin acquisition, in particular how it may have occurred within the blue-ringed octopus genus (Hapalochlaena) and the subsequent impact on venom evolution.

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