Subsidy from the Sea

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Science  14 Jul 2006:
Vol. 313, Issue 5784, pp. 148
DOI: 10.1126/science.313.5784.148a

Migratory species, by virtue of their movements, can be agents of nutrient transport between ecosystems. For example, stable isotope studies have shown that the carcasses of salmon can be a rich source of nutrients not only for the mountain streams in which they die but also for adjacent terrestrial habitats. Merz and Moyle have quantified the nutrient subsidy of Pacific salmon to Californian grape growers. They show that cultivated vines as well as native streamside vegetation bordering on salmon spawning grounds derive about 20% of their foliar nitrogen from marine sources via returning salmon. This is a classic example of what has become known as an ecosystem service—in this case, one of substantial economic and oenological value. — AMS

Ecol. Appl. 16, 999 (2006).

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