Providing a plan to help resource managers restore the Bering Sea and North Pacific ecosystem is a task research scientist Jim Estes of the U.S. Geological Survey will pursue during the next four years with funding help from a 1999 Pew Marine Conservation fellowship of $150,000.
"This is a great honor and an opportunity to do much-needed research," said Estes, a marine biologist with the USGS Western Ecological Research Center in Santa Cruz, Calif. Estes, who has spent most of his professional life working on the coastal problems of the Bering Sea and North Pacific ecosystem, recently marked sharp declines in sea otter populations in the ecosystem.
Regarded as the world's preeminent award for marine conservation, Pew fellowships are highly competitive awards targeted primarily to mid-career professionals working in marine ecosystem conservation, fisheries management, marine contamination and coastal conservation. The Pew Fellows Program in Marine Conservation is an initiative of The Pew Charitable Trusts, based in Philadelphia, Pa., and operated in partnership with the New England Aquarium in Boston.
Estes' interest in predators' roles in ecosystems began with sea otters in western Alaska in the 1970's. He was a co-discoverer of the sea otter's keystone role in kelp forests. The sea otter, said Estes, is the top predator in a coastal food web composed of sea otter, sea urchin and kelp. The sea otter feeds on sea urchins and suppresses their numbers, which in turn enhances the total production of the coastal ecosystem.
Estes expects his proposed study to provide those charged with
managing fisheries and marine mammals further information on how the
Bering Sea and North Pacific ecosystem works a
Contact: Gloria Maender
United States Geological Survey