‘Fish lollies’ capture predator activity, revealing how global marine food webs change with climate

UNSW Sydney

An international team of scientists including three UNSW researchers have sketched the first global “BiteMap”, showing where the ocean’s mid-sized predators are most active. By fishing with dried squid baits called “squid pops”, the team discovered rising temperatures can shape entire communities of predators, with potential impacts lower down the food web.

Knowing where small animals are most vulnerable to getting eaten has big implications for coastal ecosystems, where most of the world’s fishing takes place, since predators can radically change underwater communities.

The new study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was part of a project led by the Marine Global Earth Observatory (MarineGEO), which is headquartered at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center and brings together partner researchers all over the world.

To map the appetites of coastal predators, scientists enticed fish and crabs with handmade treats called “squid pops”. Similar to the popular “cake pops” at coffee shops, a squid pop consists of a piece of dried squid meat attached to a stick.

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