As ocean temperatures warm, some marine species are moving north which can result in novel species interactions. MSC researchers have found that the northward shifting range of black seabass is introducing new predator-prey dynamics between these fish and juvenile lobsters in the Gulf of Maine.
In the study, lobsters from southern ranges historically overlapping with black seabass hid more and foraged less in the presence of the fish. However, lobsters from further north responded less to the threat of predation from the new and unrecognized predator black seabass.
Northern lobsters that don’t fear predatory bass are therefore more likely to get eaten, with potential implications for the lobster fishery in the Gulf of Marine.
The study was led by Dr. Marissa McMahan, former Grabowski Lab PhD student, and current Fisheries Director at Manomet Fisheries, and results were recently published in the Journal Ecosphere.