Effects of Altered Offshore Food Webs on Coastal Ecosystems Emphasize the Need for Cross-Ecosystem Management

Britas Klemens Eriksson*, Katrin Sieben, Johan Eklof, Lars Ljunggren, Jens Olsson, Michele Casini, Ulf Bergstrom

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

74 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

By mainly targeting larger predatory fish, commercial fisheries have indirectly promoted rapid increases in densities of their prey; smaller predatory fish like sprat, stickleback and gobies. This process, known as mesopredator release, has effectively transformed many marine offshore basins into mesopredator-dominated ecosystems. In this article, we discuss recent indications of trophic cascades on the Atlantic and Baltic coasts of Sweden, where increased abundances of mesopredatory fish are linked to increased nearshore production and biomass of ephemeral algae. Based on synthesis of monitoring data, we suggest that offshore exploitation of larger predatory fish has contributed to the increase in mesopredator fish also along the coasts, with indirect negative effects on important benthic habitats and coastal water quality. The results emphasize the need to rebuild offshore and coastal populations of larger predatory fish to levels where they regain their control over lower trophic levels and important links between offshore and coastal systems are restored.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)786-797
Number of pages12
JournalAmbio
Volume40
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov-2011

Keywords

  • Mesopredator release
  • Human transformation
  • Commercial fisheries
  • Cod
  • Baltic Sea
  • Swedish coast
  • SWEDISH WEST-COAST
  • SEAGRASS ZOSTERA-MARINA
  • COD GADUS-MORHUA
  • TROPHIC CASCADES
  • REGIME SHIFTS
  • BALTIC SEA
  • PREDATORY FISH
  • DYNAMICS
  • RECRUITMENT
  • IMPACTS

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