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Sharks and wolves: Predator, prey interactions similar on land and in oceans
Date:11/10/2010

y to avoid encounters, leave room for escape and are constantly vigilant. The elk graze less in sensitive habitats, which in Yellowstone is helping streamside shrubs and aspen trees to recover, along with other positive impacts on beaver dams and wildlife.

Conceptually similar activities are taking place between sharks and dugongs, the researchers found. When sharks are abundant, dugongs graze less in shallow water where they are most vulnerable to sharks, and sacrifice food they might otherwise consume. This allows the seagrass meadows to thrive, along with the range of other plant and marine animal species that depend on them.

Related marine interactions have been observed in the North Atlantic Ocean, Ripple said. As shark populations were diminished by overfishing, the number of rays increased, which in turn reduced the level of sea scallops, an important fishery.

The marine/terrestrial similarities are also reflected in the body condition and health of species, the researchers noted. In Shark Bay, green sea turtles are more willing to face risks from sharks and seek the best grazing areas when their body condition is strong. In like fashion, the common wildebeest on the African Serengeti are less vulnerable to attack by lions or hyenas when their physical condition is good.

A more frequent information exchange between terrestrial and marine ecologists could provide additional insights into ecosystem function, the researchers said in their report.


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Contact: Bill Ripple
bill.ripple@oregonstate.edu
541-737-3056
Oregon State University
Source:Eurekalert

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