Sunday, 22 January 2017

Massive sea lion, fur seal hunting in the Patagonian coasts is altering Southern Atlantic Ocean ecosystems




Date: January 18, 2017
Source: Universidad de Barcelona

Sea lion hunting by the Europeans at the Atlantic coasts of South America -it started in the 19th Century and continued up to the second half of the 20th century in Argentina and Uruguay- changed its nutrition guidelines of these pinnipeds as well as the structure of the coastal trophic network, according to the studies by the team codirected by Lluís Cardona, from the Department of Evolutionary Biology, Ecology and Environmental Sciences and the Biodiversity Research Institute of the University of Barcelona (IRBio), and Enrique Crespo, from the Patagonian National Center and the National University of Patagonia (Argentina).
The results of this study are shown in two articles, published in the scientific journals Oecologia and Paleobiology, its co-authors being Fabiana Saporiti and Lisette Zenteno (UB-IRBio), and Damian G. Vales (Patagonian National Center), among others.

This research is one of the results of the project Efectes de l'explotació humana sobre depredadors apicals i l'estructura de la xarxa tròfica del Mar Argentí durant els darrers 6000 anys (Effects of human exploitation on apex predators and structure of the trophic network in the Argentinian sea over the last 6000 years), financially supported by BBVA Foundation and led by Professor Àlex Aguilar (UB-IRBio), head of the Research Group on Large Marine Vertebrates of the University of Barcelona.

A megafauna exploited by humans in all oceans
Hunting and fishing usually create a reduction in the abundance of bigger species. Therefore, megafauna is considered to be one of the most threatened compounds of biodiversity. Marine mammals are an essential element of megafauna in all oceans and they have been extremely exploited by humans. However, knowing about the effects of this exploitation on the functioning of food networks in marine ecosystems -a high complex structural framework- is still a hard challenge for the scientists due to the difficulty to perform manipulative experiments.

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