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Impacts of depleting forage species in the California Current


Kaplan, IC and Brown, CJ and Fulton, EA and Gray, IA and Field, JC and Smith, ADM, Impacts of depleting forage species in the California Current, Environmental Conservation, 40, (4) pp. 380-393. ISSN 0376-8929 (2013) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright Foundation for Environmental Conservation 2013

DOI: doi:10.1017/S0376892913000052


Human demands for food and fish meal are often in direct competition with forage needs of marine mammals, birds and piscivorous harvested fish. Here, two well-developed ecosystem models for the California Current on the West Coast of the USA were used to test the impacts on other parts of the ecosystem of harvesting euphausiids, forage fish, mackerel and mesopelagic fish such as myctophids. Depleting individual forage groups to levels that led to maximum sustainable yield of those groups may have both positive and negative effects on other species in the California Current. The most common impacts were on predators of forage groups, some of which showed declines of >20% under the scenarios that involved depletion of forage groups to 40% of unfished levels. Depletion of euphausiids and forage fish, which each comprise >10% of system biomass, had the largest impact on other species. Depleting euphausiids to 40% of unfished levels altered the abundance of 1330% of the other functional groups by >20%; while depleting forage fish to 40% altered the abundance of 2050% of the other functional groups by >20%. There are clear trade-offs between the harvest of forage groups and the ability of the California Current to sustain other trophic levels. Though higher trophic level species, such as groundfish, are often managed on the basis of reference points that can reduce biomass to below half of unfished levels, this level of forage species removal is likely to impact the abundance of other target species, protected species and the structure of the ecosystem.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:ecosystem modelling, euphausiids, food web, forage fish, lower trophic level species, sardine
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology)
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Marine systems and management
Objective Field:Marine biodiversity
UTAS Author:Fulton, EA (Dr Elizabeth Fulton)
UTAS Author:Smith, ADM (Dr Tony Smith)
ID Code:119549
Year Published:2013
Web of Science® Times Cited:63
Deposited By:Ecology and Biodiversity
Deposited On:2017-08-02
Last Modified:2017-10-19

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