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Food-web structure of and fishing impacts on the Gulf of Cadiz ecosystem (South-western Spain)

AuthorsTorres, María Ángeles; Coll, Marta ; Heymans, Johanna J.; Christensen, Villy; Sobrino, Ignacio
KeywordsGulf of Cadiz
Fishing impacts
Information theory
Trophic network analysis
Ecosystem approach
Food-web model
Issue DateSep-2013
CitationEcological Modelling 265: 26-44 (2013)
AbstractThe Gulf of Cadiz (North-eastern Atlantic, Spain) is an exploited ecosystem characterized by high marine biodiversity and productivity. Over the last decade, the landings of fish stocks such as anchovy (Engraulis encrasicolus), sardine (Sardina pilchardus) and hake (Merluccius merluccius) have been declining and currently remain low. A food-web model of the Gulf of Cadiz has been developed by means of a mass balance approach using the software EwE 6 to provide a snapshot of the ecosystem in 2009. The goals of this study were to: (1) characterize the food-web structure and functioning, (2) identify the main keystone groups of the ecosystem, (3) assess the impact of fishing to the Gulf of Cadiz compared to that in other essential marine ecosystems in the coastal area of Spain: Cantabrian Sea (North-eastern Atlantic) and Southern Catalan Sea (Mediterranean Sea), and (4) examine the limitations and weaknesses of the Gulf of Cadiz model for improvements and future research directions. The model consists of 43 functional groups, including the main trophic components of the system with emphasis target and non-target fish species. The main trophic flows are determined by the interaction between detritus, phytoplankton and micro- and mesozooplankton. Rose shrimp (Parapenaeus longirostris), cephalopods and dolphins present important overall effects as keystone species on the rest of the groups. The exploitation of fisheries composed mainly of trawlers, purse seiners and artisanal boats is intensive in the Gulf of Cadiz with all fleets exerting high impacts on most living groups of the ecosystem. The findings highlighted that the Gulf of Cadiz is a notably stressed ecosystem, displaying characteristics of a heavily exploited area. The comparative approach highlights that the three ecosystems display similarities with regard to structure and functioning such as the dominance of the pelagic fraction, a strong benthic-pelagic coupling, the important role of detritus, and the high impact of fishery exploitation. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.
Description19 pages, 6 figures, 4 tables, supplementary data associated with this article can be found, inthe online version, at http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2013.05.019
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2013.05.019
Identifiersdoi: 10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2013.05.019
issn: 0304-3800
Appears in Collections:(ICM) Artículos
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