News of the WeekEcology

How a Little Fish Keeps Overfished Ecosystem Productive

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Science  16 Jul 2010:
Vol. 329, Issue 5989, pp. 268
DOI: 10.1126/science.329.5989.268

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From a food-web perspective, jellyfish are typically considered a dead end. Few organisms are thought to eat them, so they tend to sink to the ocean bottom, where they slowly decay, their carbon and energy wasted. But off the coast of southwest Africa, researchers have discovered that a small fish called the bearded goby feasts on jellies, and in doing so, helps to sustain seabirds, mammals, and larger fish in that ecosystem. On page 333 of this week's issue of Science, they describe this fish's unusual lifestyle, which includes hiding out on the muddy sea floor in water toxic to other fish.