Sea otter population found to increase genetic diversity of eelgrass

Sea otters are resting with eelgrass on their hind legs. Credit: Kiliii Yüyan Photography

Teams of researchers from many institutions in Canada and the United States have found that sea otters increase their genetic diversity when they live in eelgrass meadows.In their treatise published in the journal Chemistry, The group describes the study of eelgrass meadows under various conditions. Joe Roman, along with the University of Vermont, published a perspective article in the same journal that outlines the research of researchers in this new initiative.

Before the arrival of Europeans, the coast off the west coast of North America was full. Sea otter.. Sadly, hunters put them on the brink of extinction for the next century. In this new initiative, researchers investigated the impact of sea otters on eelgrass meadows when reintroduced by environmentalists.

Eelgrass meadows grow near the coast from the seabed to the surface.Like such a meadow Coral reefIs home to many sea otter prey sea creatures. According to researchers, clams are especially enjoyed by otters. Otters swim to the bottom of the sea, feel with a beard, dig up, crack open and eat. Previous studies have shown that this activity leads to submarine divot or bare patches. Researchers have investigated the effects of sea otter clamming on eelgrass meadows. Their work involved collecting large numbers of grass samples from multiple pastures, some of which were inhabited by sea otters and some of which were not. They also said that some samples were collected from pastures where sea otters were recently reintroduced, and some were collected from pastures where otters lived for decades.

Eelgrass meadows on Calvert Island, where otters have just begun to return-The otter holes are visible on the edge of the meadow, but later occurred within the meadow. Credits: Grant Callegari, Hakai Institute

Researchers performed genetic analysis of grass samples and compared them.By doing so, they found it Eelgrass meadow Otters were more genetically diverse. They also found that the longer the sea otter lived in the meadow, the more diverse the grass. They suggest that physical interference by predators can lead to increased diversity and increased resilience in the face of changing environments.

  • Sea otter population found to increase genetic diversity of eelgrass

    Eelgrass snorkels in the eelgrass meadows to see if the seedlings are attached to the parent plant (clone) or if there are rhizomes (results of seed germination). Credits: Carly Janusson, Hakai Institute

  • Sea otter population found to increase genetic diversity of eelgrass

    Sea otter mining can increase the genetic diversity of eelgrass and increase its resilience to changes in the environment. Credits: Josh Silberg and Erin Foster

Loss of eelgrass bed causes massive release of carbon and nutrients

For more information:
Erin Foster et al, Physical Disorders by Restoring Sea Otters Population Increases Genetic Diversity in Eelgrass, Chemistry (2021). DOI: 10.1126 / science.abf2343

Joe Roman, the benefits of sabotage, Chemistry (2021). DOI: 10.1126 / science.abm2257

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Sea otter population found to increase genetic diversity of eelgrass

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