Whales serve as important ecosystem engineers, study finds

By Elizabeth Learned,

Experts have found that when it comes to the ecosystems in the oceans, the main engineers are the whales.

According to the Press Trust of India, a study believes that when it comes to the earth’s oceans, how the globe’s carbon is stored and the impact on health when it comes to fisheries, a huge influence can be found in whales.

Joe Roman, who is a biologist with the University of Vermont, said, “For a long time, whales have been considered too rare to make much of a difference in the oceans.”

However, Roman and other researchers looked at decades of research when it came to whales from all over. The researchers said, “The continued recovery of great whales may help to buffer marine ecosystems from destabilizing stresses.”

The study was published in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.

When it comes to whales, their role in recovering can “enhance the predictability and stability of marine ecosystems,” Roman commented.

Science 2.0 reports that whales are seen as ecosystem engineers because they consume other fish and are also prey to other marine predators.

Plus, they distribute their nutrients in the ocean and when their carcasses settle onto the seafloor, they provide a habitat for many species of animals who live on what are known as “whale falls.”

It is hoped that the new research into the role these great mammals play in the ocean ecosystem will further illuminate benefits that they provide.

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