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EcoTroph: Modelling marine ecosystem functioning and impact of fishing

Abstract : EcoTroph (ET) is a model articulated around the idea that the functioning of aquatic ecosystems may be viewed as a biomass flow moving from lower to higher trophic levels, due to predation and ontogenetic processes. Thus, we show that the ecosystem biomass present at a given trophic level may be estimated from two simple equations, one describing biomass flow, the other their kinetics (which quantifies the velocity of biomass transfers towards top predators). The flow kinetic of prey partly depends on the abundance of their predators, and a top-down equation expressing this is included in the model. Based on these relationships, we simulated the impact on a virtual ecosystem of various exploitation patterns. Specifically, we show that the EcoTroph approach is able to mimic the effects of increased fishing effort on ecosystem biomass expected from theory. Particularly, the model exhibits complex patterns observed in field data, notably cascading effects and 'fishing down the food web'. EcoTroph also provides diagnostic tools for examining the relationships between catch and fishing effort at the ecosystem scale and the effects of strong top-down controls and fast-flow kinetics on ecosystems resilience. Finally, a dynamic version of the model is derived from the steady-state version, thus allowing simulations of time series of ecosystem biomass and catches. Using this dynamic model, we explore the propagation of environmental variability in the food web, and illustrated how exploitation can induce a decrease of ecosystem stability. The potential for applying EcoTroph to specific ecosystems, based on field data, and similarities between EcoTroph and Ecopath with Ecosim (EwE) are finally discussed. (C) 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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Didier Gascuel, Daniel Pauly. EcoTroph: Modelling marine ecosystem functioning and impact of fishing. Ecological Modelling, Elsevier, 2009, 220 (21), pp.2885-2898. ⟨10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2009.07.031⟩. ⟨hal-01453846⟩



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