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Sea Creature Roundup

May 10, 2013

An invasive species could be an unexpected boon for salt marshes.



A helpful alien invasion. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Invasive species usually cause big problems, and the arrival of the European green crab in US waters has been no exception. The little crabs eat scallops, clams and other important shellfish. But a new study published in the journal Ecology reveals an upside to the crustacean invasion: the crabs are driving away a plant-eating crab that’s been devastating salt marshes in the Northeast. Researchers were surprised to see the marshes recovering, and when they investigated, they found that the invading crabs had taken over the marsh-eating crabs burrows.

In other news, UC San Diego scientists are studying the tails of sea horses to help them develop new robotic arms. The tails are made of 36 square segments composed of minerals and protein. The team hopes to imitate the seahorse’s combination of flexibility and armor. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

European green crab. (© Hans Hillewaert / CC-BY-SA-3.0/Wikipedia)