News FocusEcology

The Unbearable Capriciousness of Bering

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Science  25 Feb 2000:
Vol. 287, Issue 5457, pp. 1388-1389
DOI: 10.1126/science.287.5457.1388

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In the wake of the July 1997 die-off of some half-million short-tailed shearwaters in the Bering Sea, scientists have been laboring hard to untangle the sea's web of life and determine the causes behind this and other shifts that have been taking place in the sea's ecological balance. The data now point to an assault on the food web from top and bottom: Fishing and hunting are taking out predators, while climate changes are reshaping the community of tiny marine plants and animals that sustain higher life-forms. Scientists want to understand this ecosystem better, because the Bering Sea is one of the most productive ocean areas in the world.