How sea otters help save the planet

New research into the complex links of the food chain suggest that the lovable mammals play a key role in managing carbon dioxide levels

Charles Darwin once mused on the impacts that predators could have on the landscapes around them. In particular, he wondered – in On the Origin of Species – how neighbourhood cats might affect the abundance of flowers in the fields near his house at Downe in Kent. He concluded the animals’ potential to change local flora was considerable.

A robust cat population, he argued, would mean that local mouse numbers would be low and that, in turn, would mean there would high numbers of bumble bees – because mice destroy bee combs and nests. And as bees pollinate clover, Darwin argued that this cascade of oscillating species numbers would result in there being more clover in fields in areas where there are lots of feline pets. Cats mean clover, in short.

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