Sunday, April 28, 2013

Orcas and Sea Otters

Here's the paper we were discussing in class week about orca predation on sea otters. It attributes this unique predator-prey relationship to anthropogenic factors and relates to the collapse of Steller's sea lion and harbor seal populations along the west coast of North America. A corresponding decrease in populations of sea birds has been observed, pointing to a reduction in important prey (and commercial) fish populations. It's a fascinating example of the effect that "uncommon and transient species can have in controlling community structure," in a top level predator.
http://www.sciencemag.org/content/282/5388/473.full

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