Sunday, December 11, 2016

Studying Birds as Indicators of Ecosystem Health

"How can you tell where a tiny forage fish like the sand lance spends its days? Look at what’s eating it.
Popular recreational and commercial fishing species such as Atlantic cod, halibut, flounder and monkfish rely on sand lance as a staple of their diets. These forage fish are also on the menus for predators like humpback whales and many kinds of seabirds, including the great shearwater. However, sand lance are moderately vulnerable to changes in ocean and climate patterns, especially warming seas and ocean acidification. "The numbers of these forage fish (sand lance) fluctuate and have been relatively low in the past few years," explains David Wiley, research coordinator for Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Over the past several years, sanctuary scientists have been studying great shearwater populations to better understand the availability of food like the sand lance throughout the sanctuary..."
Birds and ecosystem health

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