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Biological ensemble modeling to evaluate potential futures of living marine resources
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Stockholm Resilience Centre, Baltic Nest Institute.
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2013 (English)In: Ecological Applications, ISSN 1051-0761, E-ISSN 1939-5582, Vol. 23, no 4, 742-754 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Natural resource management requires approaches to understand and handle sources of uncertainty in future responses of complex systems to human activities. Here we present one such approach, the biological ensemble modeling approach,'' using the Eastern Baltic cod (Gadus morhua callarias) as an example. The core of the approach is to expose an ensemble of models with different ecological assumptions to climate forcing, using multiple realizations of each climate scenario. We simulated the long-term response of cod to future fishing and climate change in seven ecological models ranging from single-species to food web models. These models were analyzed using the biological ensemble modeling approach'' by which we (1) identified a key ecological mechanism explaining the differences in simulated cod responses between models, (2) disentangled the uncertainty caused by differences in ecological model assumptions from the statistical uncertainty of future climate, and (3) identified results common for the whole model ensemble. Species interactions greatly influenced the simulated response of cod to fishing and climate, as well as the degree to which the statistical uncertainty of climate trajectories carried through to uncertainty of cod responses. Models ignoring the feedback from prey on cod showed large interannual fluctuations in cod dynamics and were more sensitive to the underlying uncertainty of climate forcing than models accounting for such stabilizing predator-prey feedbacks. Yet in all models, intense fishing prevented recovery, and climate change further decreased the cod population. Our study demonstrates how the biological ensemble modeling approach makes it possible to evaluate the relative importance of different sources of uncertainty in future species responses, as well as to seek scientific conclusions and sustainable management solutions robust to uncertainty of food web processes in the face of climate change.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 23, no 4, 742-754 p.
Keyword [en]
climate change, Eastern Baltic cod, environmental variation, exploitation, fisheries management, food web models, Gadus morhua callarias, model uncertainty, scenario analysis, species interactions
National Category
Environmental Sciences Ecology
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-92132DOI: 10.1890/12-0267.1ISI: 000320105100005OAI: diva2:637781


Available from: 2013-07-22 Created: 2013-07-19 Last updated: 2014-09-17Bibliographically 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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