Seastars: the benthic equivalent to the polar bear
Photo of a polar bear (left) and a seastar from the Pterasteridae family (right). Credit: University of Manitoba

A national research group led by researchers at the University of Manitoba has shown that polar bears and sea stars are the top predator of the coast.

There are additional government and university-based sample collections that were driven by D.J. Yurkowski.

The aim of the project was to better understand the structure and function of the marine environment on the island, which is currently an area of interest under consideration to become a marine protected area.

The marine food web is changing.

The concept of food webs has given insight into the functioning of the environment. The trophic structure of organisms floating or swimming in the sea, called pelagic organisms, are studied extensively, whereas the benthic organisms, which are found on the bottom of the ocean, are less studied.

Seastars: the benthic equivalent to the polar bear
Southampton marine food web. Arrows indicate trophic interaction between species within the pelagic subweb (blue), the benthic subweb (brown), or between different subwebs (green). Credit: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2022). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2216701120

R. Amiraux and his team have shown that organisms on the ocean floor can have all of the components of a complete trophic chain.

The marine food web is made up of two separate subwebs, one in the ocean and the other in the sea. R. Amiraux is a researcher at the University of Manitoba.

The world's top seafloor predator is the sea stars.

There was a lot of sea stars around the island. The Pterasteridae family was the only one with top predator. According to the authors, this family thrives as a top predator due to their evolved defense mechanism associated with a diet of other predator carcasses on the ocean floor.

All of the World's oceans are home to members of the Pterasteridae family of seastars. The family of sea stars is the top predator of the ocean floor. If these sea stars are the benthic top predator like the polar bear, they are also the benthic top predator in other oceans of the world.

Small organisms have a huge impact on the ecology.

The presence of benthic predators can have a significant impact on the functioning of our environment. If the top predator sea stars were to increase their preying on the bivalves, we can expect to see a decrease in the stock of bivalves.

This explains the many studies showing the detrimental effect of bottom trawling on benthic species on the pelagic subweb and strongly suggests that marine conservativism should not overlook the benthic compartment.

There is a paper in the journal.

The benthic equivalent of polar bears is the top predator sea stars, according to a report. 10.1073/pnas.

Journal information: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences