Predators as climate helpers

In lakes and streams, fish and insects can help protect aquatic plants that gobble up greenhouse gas

By Janet Raloff, 17:25 PM February 18, 2013


This freshwater stickleback eats the tiny animals in stream water that graze on plants and algae. This predation allows those plants and algae to collect and store carbon, rather than letting it escape into the atmosphere. Credit: Nicole Bedford, UBC



Too few bugs or fish could affect Earth’s climate in a big way, by contributing to the buildup of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere, a new study finds. It’s a surprising example of what can happen when communities in nature become unbalanced.


Freshwater fish and insects normally feed on smaller aquatic animals. These include microscopic organisms called zooplankton. Those smaller guys in turn graze on algae and plants in the water. Those plants and algae don’t just sit at the bottom of...

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