It is a unique habitat for organisms and is a source for understanding many ecological processes. Large numbers of organisms use the kelp as food and/or shelter. … The food web further consist of organisms like sea lions, whales, sea otters, urchins, sponges,… It is frequently considered to be an ecosystem engineer.
Are otters ecosystem engineers?
As ecosystem engineers and an excellent sentinel species, California sea otters are crucial to the marine ecosystem.
What is the sea otters role in the ecosystem?
Sea otters are a keystone species, meaning their role in their environment has a greater effect than other species. As top predators, sea otters are critical to maintaining the balance of nearshore ecosystems, such as kelp forests, embayments and estuaries.
Did the sea otter recovery make the ecosystem?
“We found that coastal ecosystems with otters present are almost 40 percent more productive. In the long run, that equates to higher fish catches worth $9 million, carbon storage worth $2 million and tourism opportunities worth $42 million per year.”
Why sea otter is a keystone species?
Sea otters are a “keystone species” which means that they can exert top-down pressure via predation on sea urchins, which are grazers upon kelp. As urchin density decreases from sea otter predation, so does the grazing pressure on kelp and as a result kelp forests flourish in the presence of sea otters.
Is a sea urchin an ecosystem engineer?
… Echinoderms are important components of the marine environment, often functioning as ecosystem engineers and keystone species (Hughes 1994, Lessios et al. 2001, Hereu et al. 2008 , Steneck 2013 .
Is kelp an ecosystem engineer?
Background. Kelp forests are highly productive ecosystem engineers of rocky cold-water marine coastlines, providing shelter, habitat and food for a variety of associated organisms. Several factors have been related with an observed trend of kelp deforestation in some regions of the globe.
What ecosystem do sea otters live in?
Sea otters are found in a variety of coastal marine habitats, including rocky shores and sea-bottoms, sandy sea-bottoms, as well as coastal wetlands. Sea otters naturally inhabit offshore areas with an abundance of food and kelp canopy.
How are sea otters protected?
Sea otters have been protected by the International Fur Seal Treaty since 1911. This treaty between U.S., Russia, Japan, and Great Britain was established to ban large-scale commercial hunting of sea otters and fur seals and to allow their populations to recover. Since then, sea otter numbers have increased.
What organisms interact with sea otters?
The kelp forest also provides shelter for many different animals that the sea otter often interacts with on a daily basis such as: seals, fish, and shellfish. Sea Otters have very few predators, which are known. Three of them are the bald eagle, white shark, and the killer whale.
How sea otters can help fight climate change?
Sea otters help ecosystems capture carbon from the atmosphere and store it as biomass and deep-sea detritus, preventing it from being converted back to carbon dioxide and contributing to climate change.
How did the disappearance of the sea otters influence the coastal marine ecosystem?
The decline in sea otters has allowed their primary prey, sea urchins, to increase in number and strip coastal kelp forests over large areas. … Overexploitation of certain North Pacific and Bering Sea fisheries may have initiated this cascade of ecological effects, Estes said.
What would happen if sea urchins were removed from the ecosystem?
If sea Urchins no longer existed, reefs will die due to overwhelming amounts of algae, kelp and seaweed. In addition, the organisms depending on those reefs for survival will perish along with the reefs. 3. If the sea urchin population ceased to exist, their predators will die off due to starvation.
Which ecosystem is the most endangered coastal marine ecosystem?
Perhaps the most endangered marine ecosystem, coral reefs can house hundreds of fish species and deflect high storm waves.
What type of species is a sea otter?
The sea otter (Enhydra lutris) is a marine mammal native to the coasts of the northern and eastern North Pacific Ocean. Adult sea otters typically weigh between 14 and 45 kg (31 and 99 lb), making them the heaviest members of the weasel family, but among the smallest marine mammals.
How are sea otters indicator species?
Sea otters live in the intertidal zone, making them a key indicator species in determining water quality and aiding researchers discover direct sources of land pollution entering waterways.