The importance of healthy ecosystems and stable animal populations can be demonstrated by a recent study in California showing that healthy sea otter (Enhydra lutris) populations can have an effect on carbon sequestration. Healthy populations of sea otters keep sea urchins populations under control; allowing kelp forests to thrive. Kelp forests are very efficient at sequestering carbon from the atmosphere.
Researchers agree that increasing otter populations will not cure the CO2 problem, but the study demonstrates that “managing animal populations can affect ecosystems abilities to sequester carbon” (SD, 2012).
Mitigating the rise of carbon released into the atmosphere is an ever increasing environmental issue. Helping animals could be a big boost for the environment as well. To read more on the study go here; or see the reference to the complete journal article below.
Here is another article on carbon sequestration in marine ecosystems.
Sea otters are listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species. World populations of sea otters fell to 1,000–2,000. Bans on hunting along with several reintroduction and conservation programs have helped to restore otter populations, but they are recovering slowly. You may read more here.
References: (Please note these references are not properly formatted for use in student papers- you must reformat them to your proper style).
Chris Wilmers, James Estes, Matthew Edwards, Kristin L. Laidre and Brenda Konar. Do trophic cascades affect the storage of flux of atmospheric carbon? An analysis of sea otters and kelp forests. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 2012 (in press)
image credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sea_otter_cropped.jpg