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Ecosystem flow dynamics in the Baltic Proper-Using a multi-trophic dataset as a basis for food-web modelling
Stockholm University, Stockholm Resilience Centre, Baltic Nest Institute.
Stockholm University, Stockholm Resilience Centre, Baltic Nest Institute. Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Systems Ecology.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Systems Ecology.
Stockholm University, Stockholm Resilience Centre, Baltic Nest Institute.
2012 (English)In: Ecological Modelling, ISSN 0304-3800, Vol. 230, 123-147 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The Baltic Proper is a semi-enclosed, highly productive basin of the Baltic Sea with a low biodiversity, where only a few key species drive the system's dynamics. Recently, an ecosystem regime shift was described having pronounced changes at all trophic levels, driven by changes in fishery and climate and leading to a food-web reorganisation. An Ecopath with Ecosim Baltic Proper food-web model (BaltProWeb) was developed to simulate and better understand trophic interactions and their flows. The model contains 22 functional groups that represent the main food-web components. BaltProWeb was calibrated to long-term monitoring data (1974-2006), covering multiple trophic levels and is forced by fisheries and environmental drivers. Our model enables the quantification of the flows through the food-web from primary producers to top predators including fisheries over time. The model is able to explain 51% of the variation in biomass of multiple trophic levels and to simulate the regime shift from a cod dominated to a sprat dominated system. Results show a change from benthic to more pelagic trophic flows. Before the reorganisation macrozoobenthos was identified as an important functional group transferring energy directly from lower trophic levels to top predators. After the regime shift, the pelagic trophic flows dominated. Uncertainties and limitations of the modelling approach and results in relation to ecosystem-based management are discussed.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. Vol. 230, 123-147 p.
Keyword [en]
Ecosystem dynamics, Food-web interactions, Trophic flows, Regime shift, Ecopath with Ecosim
National Category
Environmental Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-76059DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2011.12.014ISI: 000302517200012OAI: diva2:525585
4Available from: 2012-05-08 Created: 2012-05-08 Last updated: 2013-08-22Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Multiple forces drive the Baltic Sea food web dynamics and its response to environmental change
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Multiple forces drive the Baltic Sea food web dynamics and its response to environmental change
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Understanding the interaction of multiple drivers and their compounded effects on ecosystem dynamics is a key challenge for marine resource management. The Baltic Sea is one of the world’s seas most strongly impacted by effects from both human activities and climate. In the late 1980’s changes in climate in combination with intensive fishing initiated a reorganization of the Central Baltic Sea (CBS) food web resulting in the current sprat-dominated state. In the future, climate change is projected to cause drastic changes in hydrodynamic conditions of the world oceans in general, and the Baltic Sea in particular.  

In this thesis, CBS food web responses to the combined effects of fishing, nutrient loads and climate were tested for the past (1974-2006) and projected into the future (2010-2098). A new food web model for the CBS (BaltProWeb) was developed using extensive monitoring data across trophic levels. This model described the past food web dynamics well, and was hence also used for future (2010-2098) projections. Different ensemble modeling approaches were employed when testing the food web response to future scenarios.

The results show that regardless the climate change, the management of nutrient loads and cod fishing are likely to determine the food web dynamics and trophic control mechanisms in the future Baltic Sea. Consequently, the variation in the food web projections was large, ranging from a strongly eutrophied and sprat-dominated to a cod-dominated CBS with eutrophication levels close to today’s values. The results also suggest a potential risk of abrupt ecosystem changes in the future CBS, particularly if the nutrient loads are not reduced. Finally, the studies illustrate the usefulness of the ensemble modeling approach, both from the perspective of ecosystem-based management as well as for studying the importance of different mechanisms in the ecosystem response.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences, Stockholm University, 2013. 28 p.
Baltic Sea, climate change, Ecopath with Ecosim, food web interactions, multiple drivers, regime shift, trophic control
National Category
Research subject
Marine Ecology
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-92541 (URN)978-91-7447-744-3 (ISBN)
Public defence
2013-10-04, Ahlmannsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 12, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 4: In press. Paper 5: Submitted.

Available from: 2013-09-12 Created: 2013-08-08 Last updated: 2013-09-12Bibliographically approved

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Tomczak, MaciefNiiranen, SusaHjerne, OlleBlenckner, Thorsten
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