Jonathan Moore, a University of Washington biologist in aquatic and fishery sciences, holds a female king salmon from Lake Nerka in Alaska. He estimates she weighs more than 30 pounds. Photo credit: University of Washington
Like an armada of small rototillers, female salmon can industriously churn up entire stream beds from end to end, sometimes more than once, using just their tails.
For decades ecologists have believed that salmon nest-digging triggered only local effects. But a University of Washington researcher writes in this month’s BioScience journal that the silt, minerals and nutrients that are unleashed have ecosystemwide effects, causing changes in rivers and lakes far from the nests.
From decreasing the amount of algae there is to eat to possibly influencing when aquatic insects emerge, spawning salmon can be extraordinary "environmental engineers," says Jonathan Moore, a UW graduate student in aquatic and fishery sciences.
Sandra Hines | EurekAlert!
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