lutris from northern Alta California waters? Sea otters are recog

lutris from northern Alta California waters? Sea otters are recognized as keystone species that can influence the structure and organization of nearshore communities, particularly kelp forest S3I201 ecosystems in the Northeast

Pacific ( Dayton et al., 1998, Estes and Palmisano, 1974 and Simenstad et al., 1978). As voracious predators of various kinds of invertebrate herbivores, sea otters consume large quantities of sea urchins (Strongylocentrotus spp.), abalones (Haliotis spp.), and crabs (Cancer spp.) when they are available. As the primary consumers of kelp vegetation, sea urchins have the capability, if left unchecked, to seriously denude these macroalgae habitats. Thus, the balance between sea otters and sea urchins is an important factor in shaping the density and distribution of kelp vegetation and

HER2 inhibitor its associated fisheries in many North Pacific waters ( Dayton et al., 1998 and Estes and Duggins, 1995). In some nearshore environments, such as the Aleutian Islands, sizeable sea otter herds will force sea urchins to hide in inaccessible crevices, where they can do little damage to kelp vegetation. However, when sea otter numbers are thinned, this check on sea urchin control is released, potentially resulting in the widespread destruction of near shore kelp communities and the creation of “urchin barrens.” Archeological data suggest that Native Alaskan hunters occasionally Resminostat overexploited sea otters in prehistory, leading to local pulses when kelp forests and nearshore fisheries were replaced with alternate states comprised mostly of herbivorous invertebrates (Simenstad et al., 1978:404–405). Commercial hunting by the Russians in the late 1700s and early 1800s appears to have produced a similar, but more widespread environmental transformation in coastal

waters off the Aleutian Islands (Estes and Palmisano, 1974 and Estes et al., 1989:254). In other Pacific maritime habitats, such as in southern California, the relationship between sea otter overexploitation, sea urchin population expansion, and the destruction of local kelp forests is more complicated (Dayton et al., 1998 and Estes and Duggins, 1995:76; Foster et al., 1979). The density and distribution of giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) canopies are influenced by a variety of factors, such as water temperature, substrate type, and light intensity. In addition, there are other significant predators of sea urchins, particularly the California sheephead (Semicossyphus pulcher) and spiny lobsters (Panulirus interruptus), that can maintain checks on urchin populations in the absence of sea otters ( Dayton, 1985:230; Dayton et al., 1998, Erlandson et al., 2005 and Halpern et al., 2006).

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