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The University of Delaware's Danielle Dixson will discuss the role chemical cues play in driving marine organism behavior in an Ocean Currents lecture on Thursday evening, July 27.

July 27: Ocean Currents lecture

Photo by Jessica Stella

Learn how smell can play a key role in marine conservation

Coral reefs make up less than one percent of the ocean floor, but they shelter approximately 25 percent of marine species, protect shorelines and support the fishing industry.

As scientists and conservationists explore strategies to protect coral reefs, which are in global decline worldwide, few conservation strategies take into account the behavior of the organisms they are trying to protect.  

University of Delaware assistant professor Danielle Dixson will discuss the role chemical cues play in driving marine organism behavior in the third installments of the School of Marine Science and Policy’s 2017 Ocean Currents Lecture series.

The lecture will take place at 7 p.m., Thursday, July 27, in Room 104 of the Cannon Laboratory on UD’s Hugh R. Sharp Campus on Pilottown Road in Lewes.

Free and open to the public, seating for the lecture is available on a first come, first served basis.

“Few people consider that chemicals or ‘smells’ would play a big role in the ocean, however, this sense is one of the most relied on sensory systems in the marine environment,” explains Dixson. “If we view chemical cues as a language, we may be able to unlock and understand the mechanisms driving behavior.”

At UD, Dixson’s research focuses on understanding the importance of sensory behavior in marine organisms with a focus on how human induced changes could disrupt these important behaviors. While much of her research has focused on tropical coral reef in Papua New Guinea, Fiji and Australia, the results also apply to understanding marine animals and environments in Delaware.

The final installment of the Ocean Currents summer lecture series will take place on August 24, with UD scientists Kathy Coyne and Tye Pettay discussing harmful algal blooms.

Visit the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment’s event page for updates on dates and times. For further information, call 302-645-4234.


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