It is long been identified that sharks assist nourish coral reefs, however precisely to what extent has by no means been scientifically mapped out — till now.
Pioneering research — led by scientists from Imperial School London in collaboration with marine biologists from UC Santa Barbara — discovered that the predators, by way of their fecal materials, switch essential vitamins from their open ocean feeding grounds into shallower reef environments, contributing to the general well being of those fragile ecosystems. The researchers particularly examined the function of gray reef sharks (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos), a predatory species generally related to coral environments; however whose broader ecological role has long been debated. The worldwide workforce’s findings seem within the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
“Our examine reveals that giant cellular predators comparable to sharks could also be an important supply of vitamins for even the smallest reef creatures, comparable to corals,” mentioned co-writer Jennifer Caselle, an analysis biologist at UCSB’s Marine Science Institute. “The position of sharks as prime predators is effectively understood; however, their function as nutrient vectors is way much less studied.”
Working within the waters surrounding Palmyra Atoll — a national wildlife refuge managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and located 1,000 miles south of Hawaii — the scientists used acoustic tags to map the sharks’ actions throughout the atoll. They mixed these insights with present information concerning the sharks’ feeding habits in open ocean (pelagic) environments the place they devour a lot of their prey.