Narrator: This is Science Today. Physical processes, such as ocean circulation, have traditionally explained fluctuations in marine populations. But a new study suggests there may be more to it than that. Researcher Mark Ohman of the University of California, San Diego's Scripps Institution of Oceanography, found evidence that tiny, marine crustaceans called copepods engage in cannibalism to limit their population. Specifically, Ohman says female copepods may eat their own eggs.
Ohman: This is what introduces a self-regulating, or self-limiting term to the population, that nobody has found before in the open sea.
Narrator: Copepods are the most numerous multicellular animals in the ocean and perhaps, the most numerous on Earth.
Ohman: They're very important in marine food webs as grazers of the ocean's primary production and very important as prey for pelagic fishes and a variety of other marine organisms.
Narrator: Ohman says the main goal of their research is to develop better predictive models of marine ecosystems. For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.