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How A Vanished Predator Made Kelp Disappear

Janna Nichols/REEF via UC Davis
A sunflower sea star. If these are not around, kelp can vanish, too.

Not all the scary diseases affect humans.  The disease that wiped out so many sea stars--"starfish"--a few years back changed entire ecosystems. 

The disappearance of one kind of sea star removed predators for sea urchins, and they munched up the kelp forests in the Pacific off California. 

Jennifer Caselle at the University of California-Santa Barbara's Marine Science Institute was one of the researchers who recently published details of their work.  She visits with details of the devastation wrought by creatures who might have otherwise been eaten by sea stars.   

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The Jefferson Exchange is Jefferson Public Radio's daily news program focused on issues, people and events across Southern Oregon and Northern California. Angela Decker is the program's senior producer, Charlie Zimmermann is the assistant producer, and Geoffrey Riley hosts the show.