EPA Science Inventory

The Relative Impact of Warming and Removing Top Predators on the Northeast US Large Marine Biotic Community

Citation:

NYE, J. A., R. J. Gamble, AND J. S. Link. The Relative Impact of Warming and Removing Top Predators on the Northeast US Large Marine Biotic Community. ECOLOGICAL MODELLING. Elsevier Science BV, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 264:157-168, (2013).

Description:

Ecosystem-based fisheries management necessitates that we take a more holistic view of the many factors affecting ecosystems. All too often, perturbations to fisheries ecosystems are studied in isolation even though there may be important interactions among them that yield unexpected ecosystem states. The Northeast US continental shelf large marine ecosystem (NES LME) has undergone a number of changes in biophysical processes, trophic structure, and exploitation rates over the last fifty years. Changes in community assemblages, shifts in spatial distribution of many species, and the failure of fisheries to fully recover from overexploitation in the NES LME have been attributed to both the removal of large demersal fish predators and climate variability, as well as indirect effects cascading through the food web. As with many ecosystems, it is difficult to separate the effects of multiple perturbations that can affect marine ecosystems. However, recent advances in ecosystem modeling allow us to explore the relative and synergistic effects of these perturbations in silico that would otherwise be impossible in situ or experimentally. We examined the relative effects of warming and removal of large predators by modeling both of these effects separately and then in combination. Interactions amongst such changes tended to be additive, but the magnitude of synergistic effects was potentially very large in some cases. These results demonstrate the power of ecosystem models in evaluating management options.

Purpose/Objective:

Systems-based approaches to management necessitates that we take a more holistic view of the many factors affecting ecosystems. All too often, the effect of one perturbation on the ecosystem is studied in isolation even though there may be important interactions among multiple stressors that yield unexpected ecosystem states. The Northeast US continental shelf large marine ecosystem (NES LME) has undergone a number of changes in biophysical processes, trophic structure, and exploitation rates over the last fifty years. Changes in community assemblages, shifts in spatial distribution of many species, and the failure of fisheries to fully recover from overexploitation in the NES LME have been attributed to both the removal of large demersal fish predators and climate variability, as well as indirect effects cascading through the food web. This study uses a whole-ecosystem model to explore the relative and synergistic effects of these perturbations in silico that would otherwise be impossible in situ or experimentally. We examined the relative effects of warming and removal of large predators by modeling both of these effects separately and then in combination. Interactions amongst such stressors tended to be additive, but the magnitude of synergistic effects was potentially very large in some cases. These results demonstrate the power of ecosystem models in evaluating management options.

URLs/Downloads:

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Record Details:

Record Type: DOCUMENT (JOURNAL/PEER REVIEWED JOURNAL)
Start Date: 08/24/2013
Completion Date: 08/24/2013
Record Last Revised: 03/13/2014
Record Created: 08/24/2012
Record Released: 08/24/2012
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 245791

Organization:

U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

NATIONAL HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS RESEARCH LAB

ATLANTIC ECOLOGY DIVISION

POPULATION ECOLOGY BRANCH