We conclude by noting a paradox: from the standpoint of whole-community dynamics, rocky intertidal systems are possibly the best known in the world and quite specific statements can be made regarding the likely consequences of loss of species high in the trophic web. While predictive capacity is still highly restricted, the current state of knowledge is encouraging and adds significantly to the knowledge necessary to understand the consequences of human-induced change. However, little is known about the consequences of such losses at the ecosystem level or the consequences of reductions in diversity al lower trophic levels. While it is possible to make reasonable ecosystem inferences based on studies such as the sea-otter/kelp system, marine ecologists have devoted little effort to evaluating such effects. Further efforts should be aimed at alleviating this lack of understanding.
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