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Posted Sun Nov 7 2010: from ScienceAlert:
Ecosystems need sharks
The study reports that when hunted by large predators, such as sharks and snapper, small fish hide and move around less. When predator numbers are seriously reduced, their prey move greater distances, take more risks, and change feeding behaviours. These behavioural responses in prey species also drive significant changes in the balance of ecosystems.... The study looked at coral reefs of the central Pacific Ocean's northern Line Islands, a small equatorial archipelago thousands of miles from the nearest landmass. Predators had been heavily fished near some islands and virtually never fished near others.... "By removing predators and changing the grazing behaviour of small fish, there were dramatic changes in the seaweed patterns on coral reefs, giving the reefs a new look," Dr Madin said. "Seaweed is important because lush areas of seaweed inhibit the settling and growth of coral - the critically important engineers of the reef. By changing where seaweed grows, fishing may be limiting where coral can grow."
[Read more stories about: ecosystem interrelationships, predator depletion]

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'Doc Jim says:
Sharks... change seaweed and coral? Things are that connected?

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