Sea stars, also commonly referred to as the star, are among the liveliest animals along the US coast. But now scientists say that the epidemic sparked by seawater warming tolled the sea stars of sunflowers, a critical predator in the forests of the seaweed. The collapse of the sea stars could erase the shallow ecosystems that provide a home for seals, sea oysters, and commercially important fish.
"The epidemic was catastrophic and widespread," said Drew Harvell, a marine ecologist from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, who conducted a new survey. "An infectious disease causes the vulnerability of not only marine stars, but also corals and ears and other species."
The sea sickness of the sea stars
A few years ago, Harvell's research group discovered that the pathogenic size of the virus had infected marine creatures from California to Alaska and caused an epidemic called "sea star disease loss." very sensitive. The stars are star-sized car tires and they pack up to twenty hands.
Sensitivity of sunflower sea stars to the disease threatens one of the most diverse ocean ecosystems. Sea stars enjoy sea shells, spiked blades with appetizing appetite. Sea snails will eat almost everything, including kelp, giant algae that create underwater forests along the shallow waters of the west coast. In some places, the disease caused a cascade in which many seaweeds broke down and the forests of kelpa decreased. Now, five years after the epidemic began, Harvell and her research team decided to document how much the disease was knocked out by a once-rich sea star.
An endangered ecosystem
Researchers have analyzed more than 20,000 retraction retraction surveys and diver from California to Alaska, conducted between 2004 and 2017. 2015. After the epidemic, an abundance of marine stars fell 96 percent in some areas and even 100 percent in others, reports the team today in a journal Scientific progress.
– We found the numbers so low [sunflower sea stars] are vulnerable to lower 48 and very rarely in British Columbia and in Alaska, "Harvell said. "It's a whole series of these endemic species."
When the researchers modeled the star surface temperature, they discovered that the two were related. Sunflower star populations have clashed with anomalies of warm sea temperature, scientists reported. Discovery means that warmer temperatures allow plunging sunflower sea stars caused by disease, researchers say. The potential for animal recovery is uncertain.