Fishes’ fear of sharks helps shape shallow reef habitats in the Pacific, according to new research by a scientist at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences. The study is the first clear case of sharks altering a coral reef ecosystem through an indirect effect – creating an atmosphere of fear that shifts where herbivores feed and seaweeds grow. Referred to as a trophic cascade, these complex relationships exist throughout nature but the linkages are often hard to identify.
The study, published in Scientific Reports, looked at reefs located along the coast of Fiji. Many of its islands are surrounded by shallow, intertidal reefs that are commonly found in the Pacific...Read More