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Lower trophic levels and detrital biomass control the Bay of Biscay continental shelf food web: Implications for ecosystem management

Lower trophic levels and detrital biomass control the Bay of Biscay continental shelf food web: Implications for ecosystem management,10.1016/j.pocean

Lower trophic levels and detrital biomass control the Bay of Biscay continental shelf food web: Implications for ecosystem management  
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G. Lassalle, J. Lobry, F. Le Loc’h, P. Bustamante, G. Certain, D. Delmas, C. Dupuy, C. Hily, C. Labry, O. Le Pape, E. Marquis, P. Petitgashttp://academic.research.microsoft.com/io.ashx?type=5&id=49158178&selfId1=0&selfId2=0&maxNumber=12&query=
The Bay of Biscay (North-East Atlantic) has long been subjected to intense direct and indirect human activities that lead to the excessive degradation and sometimes overexploitation of natural resources. Fisheries management is gradually moving away from single-species assessments to more holistic, multi-species approaches that better respond to the reality of ecosystem processes. Quantitative modelling methods such as Ecopath with Ecosim can be useful tools for planning, implementing and evaluating ecosystem-based fisheries management strategies. The aim of this study was therefore to model the energy fluxes within the food web of this highly pressured ecosystem and to extract practical information required in the diagnosis of ecosystem state/health. A well-described model comprising 30 living and two non-living compartments was successfully constructed with data of local origin, for the Bay of Biscay continental shelf. The same level of aggregation was applied to primary producers, mid-trophic-levels and top-predators boxes. The model was even more general as it encompassed the entire continuum of marine habitats, from benthic to pelagic domains. Output values for most ecosystem attributes indicated a relatively mature and stable ecosystem, with a large proportion of its energy flow originating from detritus. Ecological network analysis also provided evidence that bottom-up processes play a significant role in the population dynamics of upper-trophic-levels and in the global structuring of this marine ecosystem. Finally, a novel metric based on ecosystem production depicted an ecosystem not far from being overexploited. This finding being not entirely consistent over indicators, further analyses based on dynamic simulations are required.
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