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Lowestoft, United Kingdom

Spencer M.,University of Liverpool | Mieszkowska N.,Marine Biological Association of The United Kingdom | Robinson L.A.,University of Liverpool | Simpson S.D.,University of Bristol | And 18 more authors.
Global Change Biology | Year: 2012

Regime shifts are sudden changes in ecosystem structure that can be detected across several ecosystem components. The concept that regime shifts are common in marine ecosystems has gained popularity in recent years. Many studies have searched for the step-like changes in ecosystem state expected under a simple interpretation of this idea. However, other kinds of change, such as pervasive trends, have often been ignored. We assembled over 300 ecological time series from seven UK marine regions, covering two to three decades. We developed state-space models for the first principal component of the time series in each region, a common measure of ecosystem state. Our models allowed both trends and step changes, possibly in combination. We found trends in three of seven regions and step changes in two of seven regions. Gradual and sudden changes are therefore important trajectories to consider in marine ecosystems. © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Hintzen N.T.,Institute for Marine Resources and Ecosystem Studies | Roel B.,Cefas Laboratory | Benden D.,Institute for Marine Resources and Ecosystem Studies | Clarke M.,Marine Institute of Ireland | And 4 more authors.
ICES Journal of Marine Science | Year: 2014

Natural resource managers aim to manage fish stocks at sustainable levels. Often, management of these stocks is based on the results of analytical stock assessments. Accurate catch data, which can be attributed to a specific population unit and reflects the population structure, are needed for these approaches. Often though, the quality of the catch data is compromised when dealing with a complex population structure where fish of different population units mix in a fishery. The herring population units west of the British Isles are prone to mixing. Here, the inability to perfectly allocate the fish caught to the population unit they originate from, due to classification problems, poses problems for management. These mixing proportions are often unknown; therefore, we use simulation modelling combined with management strategy evaluation to evaluate the role fisheries-independent surveys can play in an assessment to provide unbiased results, irrespective of population unit mixing and classification success. We show that failure to account for mixing is one of the major drivers of biased estimates of population abundance, affecting biomass reference points and MSY targets. When mixing of population units occurs, the role a survey can play to provide unbiased assessment results is limited. Either different assessment models should be employed or stock status should be considered from the survey data alone. In addition, correctly classifying the origin of fish is especially important for those population units that are markedly smaller in size than other units in the population complex. Without high classification success rates, smaller population units are extremely vulnerable to overexploitation. © 2014 International Council for the Exploration of the Sea.

Spencer M.,University of Liverpool | Birchenough S.N.R.,Cefas Laboratory | Mieszkowska N.,Marine Biological Association of The United Kingdom | Robinson L.A.,University of Liverpool | And 18 more authors.
Marine Ecology | Year: 2011

A regime shift is a large, sudden, and long-lasting change in the dynamics of an ecosystem, affecting multiple trophic levels. There are a growing number of papers that report regime shifts in marine ecosystems. However, the evidence for regime shifts is equivocal, because the methods used to detect them are not yet well developed. We have collated over 300 biological time series from seven marine regions around the UK, covering the ecosystem from phytoplankton to marine mammals. Each time series consists of annual measures of abundance for a single group of organisms over several decades. We summarised the data for each region using the first principal component, weighting either each time series or each biological component (e.g. plankton, fish, benthos) equally. We then searched for regime shifts using Rodionov's regime shift detection (RSD) method, which found regime shifts in the first principal component for all seven marine regions. However, there are consistent temporal trends in the data for six of the seven regions. Such trends violate the assumptions of RSD. Thus, the regime shifts detected by RSD in six of the seven regions are likely to be artefacts caused by temporal trends. We are therefore developing more appropriate time series models for both single populations and whole communities that will explicitly model temporal trends and should increase our ability to detect true regime shift events. © 2010 Blackwell Verlag GmbH.

Laptikhovsky V.,Cefas Laboratory | Salman A.,Ege University | Onsoy B.,Mugla Sitki Kocman Universites | Akalin M.,Ege University | Ceylan B.,Mugla Sitki Kocman Universites
Deep-Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers | Year: 2014

Reproductive patterns of two benthic bathyal octopods, Pteroctopus tetracirrhus and Scaeurgus unicirrhus have been studied in extremely nutrient-poor environment of the deep-sea Eastern Mediterranean. Both species were found to exhibit a reproductive tactics of producing eggs much larger than in the western part of the sea which likely results in larger hatchlings with higher viability. P. tetracirrhus exhibited a typical "deep-sea" spawning strategy of simultaneous maturation of a single batch of large eggs with atresia of excessive oocytes, whereas reproductive strategy of S. unicirrhus is particular for shelf octopodids: asynchronous maturation of numerous batches of small eggs with no obvious regulatory atresia. Existence of these two types of ovary development and utilisation of fecundity are closely related to two types of evolutionary stable reproductive strategies based on existence of either very large or very small eggs with a few species occupying the "intermediate" position. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.

Santos A.R.,University College Cork | Santos A.R.,Cefas Laboratory | Trueman C.,University of Southampton | Connolly P.,Marine Institute of Ireland | Rogan E.,University College Cork
Deep-Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers | Year: 2013

The black scabbardfish is a deep water species of high commercial interest in the NE Atlantic. Specimens were collected from commercial trawls to the west of the British Isles and from longliners operating near Madeira between September 2008 and May 2010. Stomach content analysis was confined to samples from the northern area, because of a high number of empty stomachs from Madeira. Stable isotope analyses identified that black scabbardfish feeds on species with epipelagic and benthopelagic affinities. For the west of British Isles, the δN values were significantly different between seasons suggesting a change in the diet throughout the year. Black scabbardfish have higher δN and δC values compared with other co-occurring benthopelagic feeders and lower nitrogen values than the true benthic predators and/or scavengers. Comparison with stable isotope analysis in samples from Madeira indicated that black scabbardfish feed at a similar trophic level and has the same trophic niche width in both areas, assuming similar baseline isotope compositions. The diet in the northern area comprised fish (68% N), crustaceans (22% N) and cephalopods (15% N) with blue whiting (Micromesistius poutassou) constituting 40% of the prey. Seasonal shift in diet was observed, with a predominance of blue whiting (70%) in the first quarter of the year, shifting to a more diverse diet in the remainder of the year. These results indicate that the diet of black scabbardfish is closely linked with the seasonal migration of blue whiting and that they likely select prey in proportion to availability. This study demonstrates that the combined used of both methods can elucidate the trophic ecology of black scabbardfish, in situations where conventional methods alone provide insufficient data. © 2013.

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