Key features and context-dependence of fishery-induced trophic cascades.

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Conserv Biol, 2010, 24 (2), pp. 382 - 394
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Trophic cascades triggered by fishing have profound implications for marine ecosystems and the socioeconomic systems that depend on them. With the number of reported cases quickly growing, key features and commonalities have emerged. Fishery-induced trophic cascades often display differential response times and nonlinear trajectories among trophic levels and can be accompanied by shifts in alternative states. Furthermore, their magnitude appears to be context dependent, varying as a function of species diversity, regional oceanography, local physical disturbance, habitat complexity, and the nature of the fishery itself. To conserve and manage exploited marine ecosystems, there is a pressing need for an improved understanding of the conditions that promote or inhibit the cascading consequences of fishing. Future research should investigate how the trophic effects of fishing interact with other human disturbances, identify strongly interacting species and ecosystem features that confer resilience to exploitation, determine ranges of predator depletion that elicit trophic cascades, pinpoint antecedents that signal ecosystem state shifts, and quantify variation in trophic rates across oceanographic conditions. This information will advance predictive models designed to forecast the trophic effects of fishing and will allow managers to better anticipate and avoid fishery-induced trophic cascades.
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