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Sea otters (Enhydra lutris) are marine mammals capable of spending their entire lives in water. Being carnivorous in nature, they feed on sea urchins, crabs, fishes, mussels and clams. They are referred to as keystone species due to their profound impact on marine ecology. The interaction between sea otters, sea urchins and kelp forests has been studied as a model of the impact of predator-prey interaction on community ecology. Sea otters are keystone predators, whose presence has a far-reaching influence on the marine food web by affecting the population of sea urchins in particular, and kelp forests & other marine organisms in general. There has been a steep decline in sea otter populations due to water pollution and exploitation for furs. This has affected marine ecology adversely. This study, therefore, focuses on the community ecology of sea otters and their impact on marine ecology. The need for their inclusion in the Endangered Species list and the implications of such an intervention are also evaluated.
Community ecology
Sea otters predate on many herbivorous invertebr…