Trophic amplification of climate warming

Kirby, RR and Beaugrand, G 2009 Trophic amplification of climate warming. Proceedings of the Royal Society Series B-Biological Sciences, 276 (1676). 4095-4103.

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Ecosystems can alternate suddenly between contrasting persistent states due to internal processes or external drivers. It is important to understand the mechanisms by which these shifts occur, especially in exploited ecosystems. There have been several abrupt marine ecosystem shifts attributed either to fishing, recent climate change or a combination of these two drivers. We show that temperature has been an important driver of the trophodynamics of the North Sea, a heavily fished marine ecosystem, for nearly 50 years and that a recent pronounced change in temperature established a new ecosystem dynamic regime through a series of internal mechanisms. Using an end-to-end ecosystem approach that included primary producers, primary, secondary and tertiary consumers, and detritivores, we found that temperature modified the relationships among species through nonlinearities in the ecosystem involving ecological thresholds and trophic amplifications. Trophic amplification provides an alternative mechanism to positive feedback to drive an ecosystem towards a new dynamic regime, which in this case favours jellyfish in the plankton and decapods and detritivores in the benthos. Although overfishing is often held responsible for marine ecosystem degeneration, temperature can clearly bring about similar effects. Our results are relevant to ecosystem-based fisheries management (EBFM), seen as the way forward to manage exploited marine ecosystems.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Depositing User: Miss Gemma Brice
Date made live: 26 Mar 2014 14:09
Last Modified: 06 Mar 2017 17:57

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