Sitka Nature Show #248 – Sarah Gravem

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The October 24th show featured a conversation with Sarah Gravem, a postdoctoral scholar at Oregon State University who is studying the impacts of sea star wasting on marine communities.

Learn more about her and her work at

Our conversation focused on sunflower sea stars (Pycnopodia helianthoides). They suffered a major population decline due to the wasting disease. Up to 90% of the population (perhaps 6 billion individuals) is what has been estimated for the total loss. This has had ripple effects down the food chain as these starfish are major predators of kelp eating grazers such as sea urchins. In some locations (such as Sitka Sound), it appears populations may be beginning to recover. This provides an opportunity to gain a better understanding of the role these keystone predators play in the development, maintenance, and/or recovery of kelp forests and other related marine communities.

If you have questions or observations you want to share, please feel free to leave a comment here or on the page I’ve set up for that purpose.

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