Red mangrove trees survive the relentless tides of their coastal habitat by perching atop a snarly nest of hardy roots. But take a peak under water, and it becomes clear that these dense webs benefit more than just the trees. This photo by Duke graduate student Y. Stacy Zhang, shows how the calm, protected waters created by mangrove roots provide a home for a vibrant community of invertebrates, including oysters, coral and sponges, and tropical fish (lower left).
Humpback whales face a dilemma when foraging for dinner: take physically demanding dives to depths where prey is more plentiful, or stick to easy-to-reach shallows? To find out which way whales go, Duke researchers tagged and tracked five humpbacks off the Alaskan coast and compared their movements to the locations of large schools of krill, detected via SONAR.
For David Johnston, drones are the perfect surveillance tool to spy on marine wildlife. Johnston and his team of ecologists, stationed at the Duke Marine Lab in Beaufort, NC, use unmanned aerial systems rigged with cameras and infrared sensors to map coastal habitats, like oyster reefs and seagrass, and to track ocean species like seals, sea turtles and sharks.
It takes a well-trained eye to spot an irregular heartbeat in the peaks and valleys of an electrocardiogram. The same goes for identifying an extinct ape from a single fossilized tooth, or telling an original van Gogh from a fake.
But in recent years, applied mathematician Ingrid Daubechies has been training computers to churn through ECG tracings, high-resolution scans of fossils, paintings and other complex digital data and work things out automatically.
DURHAM, N.C. – A legacy of acid rain has acidified forest soils throughout the northeastern United States, lowering the growth rate of trees. In an attempt to mitigate this trend, in 1999 scientists added calcium to an experimental forest in New Hampshire; tree growth recovered, but a decade later there was a major increase in the nitrogen content of stream water draining the site.
Researchers from Duke University and UNC-Chapel Hill are testing the ability of drones to detect sharks in coastal waterways.
In a collaborative study funded by North Carolina Aquariums, the researchers are examining whether drones can effectively pinpoint bonnethead sharks in different habitats and water conditions.
DURHAM, N.C. -- Allowing underwater seismic surveys for oil and gas to be conducted off the U.S. Mid-Atlantic and Southeast coasts could pose a substantial threat to one of the world’s most critically endangered whale species, a group of leading marine scientists say.
Our piecemeal coastal policies are failing us, says Duke University economist Martin Smith. We're failing to consider a future of rising sea levels. Meanwhile, one beach town can make decisions that ripple down the coastline, affecting the shape of beaches miles away. "We're haphazardly geo-engineering a whole coast," Smith says.
Rising seas threaten coastal marshes worldwide, like this marsh just outside Venice, Italy pictured in a satellite image. But a new study by Marco Marani of the Nicholas School finds marshes are more resilient than previously believed. Elevated levels of atmospheric CO2 boost plant biomass production, allowing marshes to trap more sediment and generate more organic soil.
Pundits have reminded us that “all politics is local” since American newspaper columnist Byron Price first used the phrase in 1932 to explain how hometown issues and economics shape national elections.
Old as the adage may be, it still holds true—especially, Megan Mullin’s research suggests, when it comes to the politics of climate change.
“The evidence for the effect of local weather on public opinion regarding climate change is overwhelming,” says Mullin, associate professor of environmental politics at the Nicholas School.