Ecopath International Initiative Research Association

Barcelona, Spain

Ecopath International Initiative Research Association

Barcelona, Spain
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Christensen V.,University of British Columbia | De la Puente S.,University of Lima | Sueiro J.C.,University of Lima | Steenbeek J.,University of British Columbia | And 2 more authors.
Marine Policy | Year: 2014

There are tradeoffs in managing fisheries, and ideally such tradeoffs should be known when setting fisheries policies. An aspect of this, which is rarely considered, is the spin-off effect of different fisheries: the economic and social benefits that fisheries generate through processing through distribution and on to the end consumer. This study evaluated the benefits generated in the Peruvian marine fisheries sector through a comprehensive value chain analysis, based on a newly-developed combined ecosystem-economic modeling approach, which was integrated in the widely-used Ecopath with Ecosim approach and software. The value chain was parameterized by extensive data collection through 35 enterprise types covering the marine fisheries sector in Peru, including the world's biggest single-species fishery for anchoveta. While anchoveta is what is known about Peruvian fisheries, the study finds that anchoveta accounts for only 31% of the sector contribution to GDP and for only 23% of the employment. Thus, while anchoveta indeed is the fundamental fish species in the Peruvian ecosystem, there are other fisheries to be considered for management. The study indicates that the economic multipliers for Peruvian fisheries were 2.9 on average over the industry, and that these varied surprisingly little between fleets and between seafood categories indicating that the multipliers can be used beyond Peru to generalize the spin-off effect of the value chain. Employment multipliers vary much more across types of fisheries, but also around an average of 2.9; here it was clear that longer value chains result in more employment. © 2013 The Authors.

Christensen V.,University of British Columbia | Coll M.,Institute Of Recherche Pour Le Developpement | Coll M.,CSIC - Institute of Marine Sciences | Coll M.,Ecopath International Initiative Research Association | And 4 more authors.
Marine Ecology Progress Series | Year: 2014

We performed a global assessment of how fish biomass has changed over the last 100 yr, applying a previously developed methodology using ecological modeling. Our assessment built on more than 200 food web models representing marine ecosystems throughout the world covering the period from 1880 to 2007. All models were constructed based on the same approach, and have been previously documented. We spatially and temporally distributed fish biomasses delivered by these models based on fish habitat preferences, ecology, and feeding conditions. From these distributions, we extracted over 68000 estimates of biomass (for predatory and prey fishes separately, including trophic level of 3.5 or higher, and trophic level between 2.0 and 3.0, respectively), and predicted spatial-temporal trends in fish biomass using multiple regression. Our results predicted that the biomass of predatory fish in the world oceans has declined by twothirds over the last 100 yr. This decline is accelerating, with 54% occurring in the last 40 yr. Results also showed that the biomass of prey fish has increased over the last 100 yr, likely as a consequence of predation release. These findings allowed us to predict that there will be fish in the future ocean, but the composition of fish assemblages will be very different from current ones, with small prey fish dominating. Our results show that the trophic structure of marine ecosystems has changed at a global scale, in a manner consistent with fishing down marine food webs. © Inter-Research 2014

Heymans J.J.,Scottish Association for Marine Science | Coll M.,CSIC - Institute of Marine Sciences | Coll M.,Ecopath International Initiative Research Association | Coll M.,IRD Montpellier | And 3 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2014

Background: Ecological attributes estimated from food web models have the potential to be indicators of good environmental status given their capabilities to describe redundancy, food web changes, and sensitivity to fishing. They can be used as a baseline to show how they might be modified in the future with human impacts such as climate change, acidification, eutrophication, or overfishing. Methodology: In this study ecological network analysis indicators of 105 marine food web models were tested for variation with traits such as ecosystem type, latitude, ocean basin, depth, size, time period, and exploitation state, whilst also considering structural properties of the models such as number of linkages, number of living functional groups or total number of functional groups as covariate factors. Principal findings: Eight indicators were robust to model construction: relative ascendency; relative overhead; redundancy; total systems throughput (TST); primary production/TST; consumption/TST; export/TST; and total biomass of the community. Large-scale differences were seen in the ecosystems of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, with the Western Atlantic being more complex with an increased ability to mitigate impacts, while the Eastern Atlantic showed lower internal complexity. In addition, the Eastern Pacific was less organised than the Eastern Atlantic although both of these systems had increased primary production as eastern boundary current systems. Differences by ecosystem type highlighted coral reefs as having the largest energy flow and total biomass per unit of surface, while lagoons, estuaries, and bays had lower transfer efficiencies and higher recycling. These differences prevailed over time, although some traits changed with fishing intensity. Keystone groups were mainly higher trophic level species with mostly top-down effects, while structural/dominant groups were mainly lower trophic level groups (benthic primary producers such as seagrass and macroalgae, and invertebrates). Keystone groups were prevalent in estuarine or small/shallow systems, and in systems with reduced fishing pressure. Changes to the abundance of key functional groups might have significant implications for the functioning of ecosystems and should be avoided through management. Conclusion/significance: Our results provide additional understanding of patterns of structural and functional indicators in different ecosystems. Ecosystem traits such as type, size, depth, and location need to be accounted for when setting reference levels as these affect absolute values of ecological indicators. Therefore, establishing absolute reference values for ecosystem indicators may not be suitable to the ecosystem-based, precautionary approach. Reference levels for ecosystem indicators should be developed for individual ecosystems or ecosystems with the same typologies (similar location, ecosystem type, etc.) and not benchmarked against all other ecosystems. © 2014 Heymans et al.

Albouy C.,IRD Montpellier | Albouy C.,University of Quebec at Rimouski | Velez L.,IRD Montpellier | Velez L.,James Cook University | And 8 more authors.
Global Change Biology | Year: 2014

Climate change is inducing deep modifications in species geographic ranges worldwide. However, the consequences of such changes on community structure are still poorly understood, particularly the impacts on food-web properties. Here, we propose a new framework, coupling species distribution and trophic models, to predict climate change impacts on food-web structure across the Mediterranean Sea. Sea surface temperature was used to determine the fish climate niches and their future distributions. Body size was used to infer trophic interactions between fish species. Our projections reveal that 54 fish species of 256 endemic and native species included in our analysis would disappear by 2080-2099 from the Mediterranean continental shelf. The number of feeding links between fish species would decrease on 73.4% of the continental shelf. However, the connectance of the overall fish web would increase on average, from 0.26 to 0.29, mainly due to a differential loss rate of feeding links and species richness. This result masks a systematic decrease in predator generality, estimated here as the number of prey species, from 30.0 to 25.4. Therefore, our study highlights large-scale impacts of climate change on marine food-web structure with potential deep consequences on ecosystem functioning. However, these impacts will likely be highly heterogeneous in space, challenging our current understanding of climate change impact on local marine ecosystems. © 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Torres M.T.,Spanish Institute of Oceanography | Coll M.,CSIC - Institute of Marine Sciences | Coll M.,Ecopath International Initiative Research Association | Heymans J.J.,Scottish Association for Marine Science | And 3 more authors.
Ecological Modelling | Year: 2013

The Gulf of Cadiz (North-eastern Atlantic, Spain) is an exploited ecosystem characterized by high marine biodiversity and productivity. Over the last decade, the landings of fish stocks such as anchovy (Engraulis encrasicolus), sardine (Sardina pilchardus) and hake (Merluccius merluccius) have been declining and currently remain low. A food-web model of the Gulf of Cadiz has been developed by means of a mass balance approach using the software EwE 6 to provide a snapshot of the ecosystem in 2009. The goals of this study were to: (1) characterize the food-web structure and functioning, (2) identify the main keystone groups of the ecosystem, (3) assess the impact of fishing to the Gulf of Cadiz compared to that in other essential marine ecosystems in the coastal area of Spain: Cantabrian Sea (North-eastern Atlantic) and Southern Catalan Sea (Mediterranean Sea), and (4) examine the limitations and weaknesses of the Gulf of Cadiz model for improvements and future research directions. The model consists of 43 functional groups, including the main trophic components of the system with emphasis target and non-target fish species. The main trophic flows are determined by the interaction between detritus, phytoplankton and micro- and mesozooplankton. Rose shrimp (Parapenaeus longirostris), cephalopods and dolphins present important overall effects as keystone species on the rest of the groups. The exploitation of fisheries composed mainly of trawlers, purse seiners and artisanal boats is intensive in the Gulf of Cadiz with all fleets exerting high impacts on most living groups of the ecosystem. The findings highlighted that the Gulf of Cadiz is a notably stressed ecosystem, displaying characteristics of a heavily exploited area. The comparative approach highlights that the three ecosystems display similarities with regard to structure and functioning such as the dominance of the pelagic fraction, a strong benthic-pelagic coupling, the important role of detritus, and the high impact of fishery exploitation. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.

Christensen V.,University of British Columbia | Coll M.,Institute Of Recherche Pour Le Developpement | Coll M.,CSIC - Institute of Marine Sciences | Coll M.,Ecopath International Initiative Research Association | And 5 more authors.
Ecosystems | Year: 2014

Why are marine species where they are? The scientific community is faced with an urgent need to understand aquatic ecosystem dynamics in the context of global change. This requires development of scientific tools with the capability to predict how biodiversity, natural resources, and ecosystem services will change in response to stressors such as climate change and further expansion of fishing. Species distribution models and ecosystem models are two methodologies that are being developed to further this understanding. To date, these methodologies offer limited capabilities to work jointly to produce integrated assessments that take both food web dynamics and spatial-temporal environmental variability into account. We here present a new habitat capacity model as an implementation of the spatial-temporal model Ecospace of the Ecopath with Ecosim approach. The new model offers the ability to drive foraging capacity of species from the cumulative impacts of multiple physical, oceanographic, and environmental factors such as depth, bottom type, temperature, salinity, oxygen concentrations, and so on. We use a simulation modeling procedure to evaluate sampling characteristics of the new habitat capacity model. This development bridges the gap between envelope environmental models and classic ecosystem food web models, progressing toward the ability to predict changes in marine ecosystems under scenarios of global change and explicitly taking food web direct and indirect interactions into account. © 2014 Springer Science+Business Media New York.

Valls A.,University of British Columbia | Coll M.,CSIC - Institute of Marine Sciences | Coll M.,Institute Of Recherche Pour Le Developpement | Coll M.,Ecopath International Initiative Research Association | Christensen V.,University of British Columbia
Ecological Monographs | Year: 2015

Various definitions and indices have been proposed in the literature to identify keystone species. In this study, we intended to make the concept of keystone species operational for marine biodiversity conservation. We used an exclusive definition of keystone species, based on the original concept of keystone predator, and derived a new functional index of keystoneness (KS) from an ecosystem-modeling approach. First, several KS indices were formulated, by combining measures of the mixed-trophic impact (MTI) and biomass of species. Then, a meta-analysis was performed, based on 101 published Ecopath food-web models, selected with a scoring method, and representative of the variety of marine ecosystems worldwide. The indices were applied to the models, and two statistical methods were compared to select the most promising KS index. Rank correlation tests were performed to assess the balance between the contribution of the impact and biomass components to the different KS indices. In addition, a classification tree was implemented, based on ecosystemspecific thresholds applied to the latter species traits, and used to confirm the identified keystone species. The selected index obtained the highest number of models with positive results from both the rank correlation tests and the classification tree. We also demonstrated the limitations of existing KS indices previously applied in the literature. Species were ranked according to their estimates of keystoneness with the selected KS index, so that potential keystone species were quantitatively identified in the 101 modeled food webs. The standardized modeling approach allowed for a comparison of the identified keystone species across models: cartilaginous fishes and toothed whales obtained the highest occurrences. Finally, the selected KS index was applied to the well-known case study of Prince William Sound (Alaska, USA). Potentially significant anthropogenic (fishing) impacts on keystone species were also considered and discussed. The operational methodology presented is directly applicable to marine food webs, and may be adapted to other (freshwater or terrestrial) systems. © 2015 by the Ecological Society of America.

Coll M.,CSIC - Institute of Marine Sciences | Coll M.,Ecopath International Initiative Research Association | Navarro J.,CSIC - Institute of Marine Sciences | Olson R.J.,Inter American Tropical Tuna Commission | And 2 more authors.
Deep-Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography | Year: 2013

We synthesized available information from ecological models at local and regional scales to obtain a global picture of the trophic position and ecological role of squids in marine ecosystems. First, static food-web models were used to analyze basic ecological parameters and indicators of squids: biomass, production, consumption, trophic level, omnivory index, predation mortality diet, and the ecological role. In addition, we developed various dynamic temporal simulations using two food-web models that included squids in their parameterization, and we investigated potential impacts of fishing pressure and environmental conditions for squid populations and, consequently, for marine food webs. Our results showed that squids occupy a large range of trophic levels in marine food webs and show a large trophic width, reflecting the versatility in their feeding behaviors and dietary habits. Models illustrated that squids are abundant organisms in marine ecosystems, and have high growth and consumption rates, but these parameters are highly variable because squids are adapted to a large variety of environmental conditions. Results also show that squids can have a large trophic impact on other elements of the food web, and top-down control from squids to their prey can be high. In addition, some squid species are important prey of apical predators and may be keystone species in marine food webs. In fact, we found strong interrelationships between neritic squids and the populations of their prey and predators in coastal and shelf areas, while the role of squids in open ocean and upwelling ecosystems appeared more constrained to a bottom-up impact on their predators. Therefore, large removals of squids will likely have large-scale effects on marine ecosystems. In addition, simulations confirm that squids are able to benefit from a general increase in fishing pressure, mainly due to predation release, and quickly respond to changes triggered by the environment. Squids may thus be very sensitive to the effects of fishing and climate change. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.

Tecchio S.,CSIC - Institute of Marine Sciences | Coll M.,CSIC - Institute of Marine Sciences | Coll M.,Ecopath International Initiative Research Association | Christensen V.,Ecopath International Initiative Research Association | And 4 more authors.
Deep-Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers | Year: 2013

There is increasing fishing pressure on the continental margins of the oceans, and this raises concerns about the vulnerability of the ecosystems thriving there. The current knowledge of the biology of deep-water fish species identifies potential reduced resilience to anthropogenic disturbance. However, there are extreme difficulties in sampling the deep sea, resulting in poorly resolved and indirectly obtained food-web relationships. Here, we modelled the flows and biomasses of a Mediterranean deep-sea ecosystem, the Catalan Sea continental slope at depths of 1000-1400. m. This is the first model of a deep-water ecosystem in the Mediterranean Sea. The objectives were to (a) quantitatively describe the food web structure of the ecosystem, (b) examine the role of key species in the ecosystem, and (c) explore the vulnerability of this deep-sea ecosystem to potential future fishing exploitation. We used the Ecopath with Ecosim (EwE) modelling approach and software to model the ecosystem. The trophic model included 18 consumers, a marine snow group, and a sediment detritus group. Trophic network analysis identified low levels of consumer biomass cycling and low system omnivory index when compared with expected values of marine ecosystems, and higher cycling and omnivory when compared with available EwE models of shallower areas of the Mediterranean Sea. The majority of flows in the ecosystem were concentrated at the trophic level of first-order consumers (TL 2). Benthic invertebrates and demersal sharks were identified to have key ecological roles in the ecosystem. We used the dynamic temporal model Ecosim to simulate expansion of the red-shrimp benthic trawl fishery that currently operates at shallower depths, down to 800. m depth. The simulations showed reductions in fish biomass and that the state of the deep continental slope ecosystem in the western Mediterranean seems to be the result of a long-term succession process, which has reached ecological stability, and is particularly vulnerable to human impact and, specifically, to fisheries exploitation. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

Coll M.,CSIC - Institute of Marine Sciences | Coll M.,Ecopath International Initiative Research Association | Navarro J.,CSIC - Institute of Marine Sciences | Palomera I.,CSIC - Institute of Marine Sciences | Palomera I.,Ecopath International Initiative Research Association
Biological Conservation | Year: 2013

The Mediterranean endemic starry ray (Raja asterias) is one of the few demersal skates that are still present in Mediterranean exploited ecosystems. However, this species has declined with time, its presence in survey data is scarce, and limited information is available about its ecology and the impact of fishing on its populations. We examined key ecological features of this species such as reproduction, trophic behaviour and growth. We assessed the ecological role of this species within the food web using an ecological model of a North-Western Mediterranean ecosystem and setting the new information in an ecosystem context. We then explored impacts of fishing on the starry ray population using a dynamic temporal model and we developed fishing scenarios aiming at recovering the species. Field and modelling results showed that the starry ray is a potentially ecologically important predator of the Mediterranean demersal ecosystems, but its ecological importance in the food web is moderate-low since it is present at a low abundance. Results confirmed that the species has been and still is highly impacted by fishing and it is very sensitive to increasing fishing impacts. However, alternative fishing scenarios showed that Mediterranean starry ray populations may respond under decreasing trawl fishing effort and could substantially recover. The recovery of the starry ray may be accompanied by recovery of other demersal species and could have wider ecosystem impacts. Therefore, this skate could be a good sentinel species to indicate ecosystem health in current Mediterranean Sea ecosystems. These new insights may be useful to ensure the recovery and conservation of this species while triggering the recovery of exploited marine communities in the Mediterranean Sea. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.

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