In a bay off the coast of Australia there are seagrass meadows. Dugongs, a herbivorous manatee, love to eat seaweed. But they are caught while running by tiger sharks that like to eat dugongs.
In 2011, the seagrass meadows were damaged Severely from the heat wave. A group of researchers wanted to know what would happen if the sharks disappeared from the area and the dugongs were able to chew the seaweed without restrictions, so could the seaweed recover?
So they created a shark-free bay. The result, disappointing, was that the seaweed could not recover at all when the sharks no longer chased the dugongs.
That sharks and others like it Top predators have long been important to ecosystem stability, but researchers have now been able to show that they are also important to how well ecosystems recover after extreme weather events.
Robert J. Novicki Jordan A. Thompson James W. Forkorian, Aaron J. Wersing, Michael R. Hythos. Loss of predation risk from predators can exacerbate marine leveling caused by extreme weather events. First published: February 23, 2021. Journal of Animal Ecology. https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2656.13424