In DepthEcology

An ecosystem goes topsy-turvy as a tiny fish takes over

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  04 Sep 2020:
Vol. 369, Issue 6508, pp. 1154-1155
DOI: 10.1126/science.369.6508.1154

You are currently viewing the summary.

View Full Text

Log in to view the full text

Log in through your institution

Log in through your institution

Summary

No bigger than a minnow, the three-spine stickleback may seem a puny player in the underwater world. But along the European coastline of the Baltic Sea, it has edged out its own predators—toothy pike and perch, species bigger than your forearm. Records dating back 40 years show how the flamboyant little fish has shifted the ecosystem, thwarting efforts to restore the bigger species favored by human fishers. In the 1990s, sticklebacks began to outnumber their predators ever closer to land, their dominance spreading toward more protected bays and inland waters. Ecologists say what has happened in the Baltic is a dramatic example of a predator-prey reversal, in which two species trade places on the food chain, drastically altering the rest of the ecosystem.

View Full Text

Stay Connected to Science