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Where land and sea meet: Brown bears and sea otters

October 12, 2022

In Katmai National Park, Alaska, USA, we have seen changes in the number of brown bears and sea otters. The number of animals of a species a habitat can support is called carrying capacity. Even though bears live on land and sea otters live in the ocean, these two mammals share coastal habitats. Bears eat salmon, other fish, plants, clams, and beached whales. Sea otters feed on clams and other marine invertebrates. All these foods are influenced by the ocean. Recently, we have seen fewer bears but more sea otters! What changed? Many things, but several observations point to the ocean. There are fewer salmon, whales, and clams, so bears rely more on plants for food. Fewer clams mean sea otters must work harder to find food. Our studies are helping us to understand how and why carrying capacity for a given species may change over time.

Publication Year 2022
Title Where land and sea meet: Brown bears and sea otters
DOI 10.3389/frym.2022.715993
Authors Heather Coletti, Grant Hilderbrand, James L. Bodkin, Brenda E. Ballachey, Joy Erlenbach, George G. Esslinger, Michael Hannam, Kimberly A. Kloecker, Buck Mangipane, Amy Miller, Daniel Monson, Benjamin Pister, K. Griffin, K. Bodkin, Tom Smith
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Frontiers for Young Minds
Index ID 70237621
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Alaska Science Center Biology MFEB