Learn About Seastars: Population & community ecology

Population biology

Topics relating to population & community ecology iinclude POPULATION BIOLOGY, considered here, and COMPETITION, GENETICS, KEYSTONE PREDATOR dealt with in other sections.

Research study 1

photograph of ochre stars Pisaster ochraceus foraging in a mussel bedResults of a 50yr study on population changes in ochre stars Pisaster ochraceus in Monterey Bay, California are presented by a consortium of west-coast researchers. The study focuses on 3 sites, one dominated by mussels Mytilus californianus and the other sites being relatively mussel-poor. Major observations are: 1) sea-stars are much smaller now at the mussel-dominated site, but in greater abundance, and 2) the reverse is true at the other 2 sites. In fact, in 2005 only a few relatively large individuals are seen at these last sites. The authors speculate on causes of these changes, such as the possibility of size-selective predation by sea otters at the first site, but are unclear on what factors may have been involved at the other 2 sites. Pearse et al. 2010 p. 633 In, Echinoderms: Durham (Harris et al., eds) Taylor & Francis Group, London.

Ochre stars Pisaster ochraceus forage in a mussel bed at low tide 0.25X