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Researchers from the Heithaus Lab analyzed the impact of the largest marine heat wave ever to hit Shark Bay, Western Australia.

In a newly published paper, researchers used an 18-year community-level data set, captured before and after the 2011 heat wave, to assess the effect of seagrass loss on the abundance of a variety of consumer groups from dolphins to sea snakes. They found it was particularly harmful for animals, like dugongs and sea snakes, that rely on seagrass directly for food or shelter.

It is one of the first studies to investigate the legacy effects of an extreme climatic event (ECE) on the abundance and habitat use of such a wide variety of species at the ecosystem scale. This study represents a small but important step in understanding integrated biological interactions which is critical to making well-informed policy decisions.