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Essay about Impact of Sea Otters on Community Ecology

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Introduction
Sea otters (Enhydra lutris) are marine mammals capable of spending their entire lives in water. Being carnivorous in nature, they feed on sea urchins, crabs, fishes, mussels and clams. They are referred to as keystone species due to their profound impact on marine ecology. The interaction between sea otters, sea urchins and kelp forests has been studied as a model for the impact of predator-prey interactions on community ecology. Sea otters are keystone predators, whose presence has a far-reaching influence on the marine food web by affecting the populations of sea urchins, which indirectly affects the populations of kelp forests & other marine organisms. There has been a steep decline in sea otter populations due to water pollution and exploitation for furs. This has affected marine ecology adversely. It is therefore suggested that sea otters should be included in the endangered species list to protect them from further exploitation. This study focuses on the community ecology of sea otters and their impact on marine ecology. The need for their inclusion in the Endangered Species list and the implications of such an intervention are also evaluated.

Community ecology
Sea otters predate on many herbivorous invertebrates, including sea urchins. Sea urchins feed on kelp forests, which are an important habitat for fishes and other marine organisms. A high population of sea urchins has an adverse effect on kelp forests. Since sea otters predate upon sea urchins, their populations ar...


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...=SMURF_otter.pdf

Community Ecology. eaglenet.lambuth.edu. Web. 28 July 2011. http://eaglenet.lambuth.edu/facultyweb/science/biology/RCook/community%20ecologyS10.pdf

Impacts on Biodiversity. Quebec Biodiversity Website. Web. 28 July 2011.
< http://redpath-museum.mcgill.ca/Qbp/3.Conservation/impacts.htm>

Interaction with kelps & sea otters. asnailsodyssey.com. Web. 28 July 2011. http://www.asnailsodyssey.com/LEARNABOUT/URCHIN/urchPopu.php

Laidre, Kristin L. “Sea otter (Enhydra lutris) community ecology”. staff.washington.edu. Web. 28 July 2011. < http://staff.washington.edu/klaidre/otter.html>

Soule, Michael E et al. “Ecological Effectiveness: Conservation Goals for Interactive Species.” Conservation Biology 17.5 (2003) : 1238-1250.







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