With the help of blue light and special long-pass filters, scientists have uncovered more of the undersea world's secrets. A study published in January 2014 describes more than 180 species of marine fishes that glow in different colors and patterns, via a process known as biofluorescence. Biofluorescence is a natural process in which organisms absorb light at one intensity, or wavelength, and emit it at a different, usually lower, level--seen as a different color. Find out more in this discovery.
Credit: J. Sparks, D. Gruber, and V. Pieribone
Physicist Daniel Goldman and his fellow researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology shed light on a relatively unexplored subject--how organisms such as sea turtles and lizards move on (or within) sand. If you've ever struggled to walk with even a modicum of grace on a soft, sandy beach, you may appreciate the question. The answers that Goldman's lab discovers--with the help of living animals and biologically inspired robots--deepen our understanding not only of animal survival, evolution and ecology, but also, potentially, the evolution of complex life forms on Earth. Find out more in this discovery.
Credit: GSTC Turtle Patrol
The Division of Integrative Organismal Systems (IOS) of the Biological Sciences Directorate supports research aimed at improving understanding of organisms as integrated units of biological organization. The goal is to predict why organisms are structured the way they are, and function as they do.
In a unique study involving young boa constrictors, University of Cincinnati researchers put snakes to work on varying diameters and flexibility of vertical rope to examine how they might move around on branches and vines to gather food and escape enemies in their natural habitat.
February 3, 2014
Waterfall-climbing fish performs evolutionary feat
Small Hawaiian goby fish species could provide big clues about adaptation and evolution
The species of goby fish, Sicyopterus stimpsoni, also known as the "inching climber," thrives in the waters off Hawaii, and the amazing physical feat it must perform to survive is no fish tale! To reach the safe haven of its freshwater spawning area, this goby must scale a waterfall, or at least the rock behind it, using suction cups on its body.
Typically no bigger than a few inches, it makes its way up the rock, hundreds of feet high. Comparatively speaking, a human being would have to climb Mount Everest three times in order to compete with the inching climber, according to St. Cloud State University biologist Heiko Schoenfuss.
With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), he and other scientists at St. Cloud State and Clemson universities study these extraordinary fish to better understand how they've adapted and evolved in order to achieve such vertical feats. The challenge in this case is climbing waterfalls, but Schoenfuss says their findings can be extrapolated to other species, and whether it's human-induced selective pressure, pollution or warming waters, scientists can learn about how adaptation occurs over long and short periods of time.
The research in this episode was supported by NSF award #0817794, Collaborative research: Plasticity, selection and divergence in stream fishes of the Hawaiian Islands.
Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations presented in this material are only those of the presenter grantee/researcher, author, or agency employee; and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.