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Uncertainties in a Baltic Sea Food-Web Model Reveal Challenges for Future Projections
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, Stockholm Resilience Centre, Baltic Nest Institute.
2012 (English)In: Ambio, ISSN 0044-7447, Vol. 41, no 6, 613-625 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Models that can project ecosystem dynamics under changing environmental conditions are in high demand. The application of such models, however, requires model validation together with analyses of model uncertainties, which are both often overlooked. We carried out a simplified model uncertainty and sensitivity analysis on an Ecopath with Ecosim food-web model of the Baltic Proper (BaltProWeb) and found the model sensitive to both variations in the input data of pre-identified key groups and environmental forcing. Model uncertainties grew particularly high in future climate change scenarios. For example, cod fishery recommendations that resulted in viable stocks in the original model failed after data uncertainties were introduced. In addition, addressing the trophic control dynamics produced by the food-web model proved as a useful tool for both model validation, and for studying the food-web function. These results indicate that presenting model uncertainties is necessary to alleviate ecological surprises in marine ecosystem management.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. Vol. 41, no 6, 613-625 p.
Keyword [en]
Food-web, Baltic Sea, Uncertainty, Model sensitivity, Ecopath with Ecosim, Ecosystem-based management
National Category
Ecology Environmental Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-81248DOI: 10.1007/s13280-012-0324-zISI: 000308039100009OAI: diva2:560663


Available from: 2012-10-15 Created: 2012-10-15 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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Niiranen, SusaBlenckner, ThorstenHjerne, OlleTomczak, Maciej T.
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Baltic Nest InstituteDepartment of Systems Ecology
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