Environment

Following a Devastating Pandemic, California’s Sea Stars are Evolving

In 2012, Environmental Systems graduate student Lauren Schiebelhut was collecting DNA from ochre sea stars living along the Northern California coast — part of an effort to study genetic diversity in various marine species that serve as indicators of habitat health. She had no idea that just one year later, most of the sea stars would be dead.

Students Discover Cannibal Lizards on Remote Aegean Island

It reads like a mashup of Greek mythology and H.G. Wells. “The Odyssey of Doctor Moreau,” perhaps. Explorers find their way to a remote Aegean island and discover it’s inhabited by reptilian cannibals. They describe one encounter as follows:

“[I]t began to run away, with the dead lizard torso and head still in its mouth. The cannibal continuously ran along the top of a wall and paused intermittently to thrash the corpse against the cement.”

NSF Grants Will Help Unravel Mysteries of Sea Stars, Jellyfish

The National Science Foundation recently awarded Professor Michael Dawson $900,000 to study some rather mysterious marine phenomena.

Dawson received $700,000 — part of a three-year, $1.2 million grant awarded to Dawson and collaborators at UC Santa Cruz, the University of Georgia and Cornell University — to investigate the repercussions of the 2013 outbreak of sea star wasting disease (SSWD), a marine pandemic that killed 90 percent of ochre sea stars along North America’s Pacific coast.

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