Globalization, marine regime shifts and the Soviet Union.
ABSTRACT: Regime shifts have been observed in marine ecosystems around the world, with climate and fishing suggested as major drivers of such shifts. The global and regional dynamics of the climate system have been studied in this context, and efforts to develop an analogous understanding of fishing activities are developing. Here, we investigate the timing of pelagic marine regime shifts in relation to the emergence of regional and global fishing activities of the Soviet Union. Our investigation of official catch statistics reflects that the Soviet Union was a major fishing actor in all large marine ecosystems where regime shifts have been documented, including in ecosystems where overfishing has been established as a key driver of these changes (in the Baltic and Black Seas and the Scotian Shelf). Globalization of Soviet Union fishing activities pushed exploitation to radically new levels and triggered regional and global governance responses for improved management. Since then, exploitation levels have remained and increased with new actors involved. Based on our exploratory work, we propose that a deeper understanding of the role of global fishing actors is central for improved management of marine ecosystems.
Project description:Many ecosystems can experience regime shifts: surprising, large and persistent changes in the function and structure of ecosystems. Assessing whether continued global change will lead to further regime shifts, or has the potential to trigger cascading regime shifts has been a central question in global change policy. Addressing this issue has, however, been hampered by the focus of regime shift research on specific cases and types of regime shifts. To systematically assess the global risk of regime shifts we conducted a comparative analysis of 25 generic types of regime shifts across marine, terrestrial and polar systems; identifying their drivers, and impacts on ecosystem services. Our results show that the drivers of regime shifts are diverse and co-occur strongly, which suggests that continued global change can be expected to synchronously increase the risk of multiple regime shifts. Furthermore, many regime shift drivers are related to climate change and food production, whose links to the continued expansion of human activities makes them difficult to limit. Because many regime shifts can amplify the drivers of other regime shifts, continued global change can also be expected to increase the risk of cascading regime shifts. Nevertheless, the variety of scales at which regime shift drivers operate provides opportunities for reducing the risk of many types of regime shifts by addressing local or regional drivers, even in the absence of rapid reduction of global drivers.
Project description:Large-scale transitions between alternative states in ecosystems are known as regime shifts. Once described as healthy and dominated by various marine predators, the Black Sea ecosystem by the late 20th century had experienced anthropogenic impacts such as heavy fishing, cultural eutrophication, and invasions by alien species. We studied changes related to these "natural experiments" to reveal the mechanisms of regime shifts. Two major shifts were detected, the first related to a depletion of marine predators and the second to an outburst of the alien comb jelly Mnemiopsis leidyi; both shifts were triggered by intense fishing resulting in system-wide trophic cascades. The complex nature of ecosystem responses to human activities calls for more elaborate approaches than currently provided by traditional environmental and fisheries management. This implies challenging existing practices and implementing explanatory models of ecosystem interactions that can better reconcile conservation and ecosystem management ideals.
Project description:Marine ecosystems can experience regime shifts, in which they shift from being organized around one set of mutually reinforcing structures and processes to another. Anthropogenic global change has broadly increased a wide variety of processes that can drive regime shifts. To assess the vulnerability of marine ecosystems to such shifts and their potential consequences, we reviewed the scientific literature for 13 types of marine regime shifts and used networks to conduct an analysis of co-occurrence of drivers and ecosystem service impacts. We found that regime shifts are caused by multiple drivers and have multiple consequences that co-occur in a non-random pattern. Drivers related to food production, climate change and coastal development are the most common co-occurring causes of regime shifts, while cultural services, biodiversity and primary production are the most common cluster of ecosystem services affected. These clusters prioritize sets of drivers for management and highlight the need for coordinated actions across multiple drivers and scales to reduce the risk of marine regime shifts. Managerial strategies are likely to fail if they only address well-understood or data-rich variables, and international cooperation and polycentric institutions will be critical to implement and coordinate action across the scales at which different drivers operate. By better understanding these underlying patterns, we hope to inform the development of managerial strategies to reduce the risk of high-impact marine regime shifts, especially for areas of the world where data are not available or monitoring programmes are not in place.
Project description:Several marine ecosystems under anthropogenic pressure have experienced shifts from one ecological state to another. In the central Baltic Sea, the regime shift of the 1980s has been associated with food-web reorganization and redirection of energy flow pathways. These long-term dynamics from 1974 to 2006 have been simulated here using a food-web model forced by climate and fishing. Ecological network analysis was performed to calculate indices of ecosystem change. The model replicated the regime shift. The analyses of indicators suggested that the system's resilience was higher prior to 1988 and lower thereafter. The ecosystem topology also changed from a web-like structure to a linearized food-web.
Project description:Global climate change is driving rapid distribution shifts in marine ecosystems; these are well established for lower trophic levels, but are harder to quantify for migratory top predators. By analysing a 25-year sightings-based dataset, we found evidence for rapid northwards range expansion of the critically endangered Balearic shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus in northeast Atlantic waters. A 0.6 degrees C sea surface temperature increase in the mid-1990s is interpreted as an underlying controlling factor, while simultaneous northward shifts of plankton and prey fish species suggests a strong bottom-up control. Our results have important conservation implications and provide new evidence for climate-driven regime shift in Atlantic ecosystems.
Project description:Regime shifts are characterized by sudden, substantial and temporally persistent changes in the state of an ecosystem. They involve major biological modifications and often have important implications for exploited living resources. In this study, we examine whether regime shifts observed in 11 marine systems from two oceans and three regional seas in the Northern Hemisphere (NH) are synchronous, applying the same methodology to all. We primarily infer marine pelagic regime shifts from abrupt shifts in zooplankton assemblages, with the exception of the East Pacific where ecosystem changes are inferred from fish. Our analyses provide evidence for quasi-synchronicity of marine pelagic regime shifts both within and between ocean basins, although these shifts lie embedded within considerable regional variability at both year-to-year and lower-frequency time scales. In particular, a regime shift was detected in the late 1980s in many studied marine regions, although the exact year of the observed shift varied somewhat from one basin to another. Another regime shift was also identified in the mid- to late 1970s but concerned less marine regions. We subsequently analyse the main biological signals in relation to changes in NH temperature and pressure anomalies. The results suggest that the main factor synchronizing regime shifts on large scales is NH temperature; however, changes in atmospheric circulation also appear important. We propose that this quasi-synchronous shift could represent the variably lagged biological response in each ecosystem to a large-scale, NH change of the climatic system, involving both an increase in NH temperature and a strongly positive phase of the Arctic Oscillation. Further investigation is needed to determine the relative roles of changes in temperature and atmospheric pressure patterns and their resultant teleconnections in synchronizing regime shifts at large scales.
Project description:Identifying the various drivers of marine ecosystem regime shifts and disentangling their respective influence are critical tasks for understanding biodiversity dynamics and properly managing exploited living resources such as marine fish communities. Unfortunately, the mechanisms and forcing factors underlying regime shifts in marine fish communities are still largely unknown although climate forcing and anthropogenic pressures such as fishing have been suggested as key determinants. Based on a 24-year-long time-series of scientific surveys monitoring 55 fish and cephalopods species, we report here a rapid and persistent structural change in the exploited fish community of the eastern English Channel from strong to moderate dominance of small-bodied forage fish species with low temperature preferendum that occurred in the mid-1990s. This shift was related to a concomitant warming of the North Atlantic Ocean as attested by a switch of the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation from a cold to a warm phase. Interestingly, observed changes in the fish community structure were opposite to those classically induced by exploitation as larger fish species of higher trophic level increased in abundance. Despite not playing a direct role in the regime shift, fishing still appeared as a forcing factor affecting community structure. Moreover, although related to climate, the regime shift may have been facilitated by strong historic exploitation that certainly primed the system by favoring the large dominance of small-bodied fish species that are particularly sensitive to climatic variations. These results emphasize that particular attention should be paid to multidecadal natural climate variability and its interactions with both fishing and climate warming when aiming at sustainable exploitation and ecosystem conservation.
Project description:Photosynthesis fuels marine food webs, yet differences in fish catch across globally distributed marine ecosystems far exceed differences in net primary production (NPP). We consider the hypothesis that ecosystem-level variations in pelagic and benthic energy flows from phytoplankton to fish, trophic transfer efficiencies, and fishing effort can quantitatively reconcile this contrast in an energetically consistent manner. To test this hypothesis, we enlist global fish catch data that include previously neglected contributions from small-scale fisheries, a synthesis of global fishing effort, and plankton food web energy flux estimates from a prototype high-resolution global earth system model (ESM). After removing a small number of lightly fished ecosystems, stark interregional differences in fish catch per unit area can be explained (<i>r</i> = 0.79) with an energy-based model that (<i>i</i>) considers dynamic interregional differences in benthic and pelagic energy pathways connecting phytoplankton and fish, (<i>ii</i>) depresses trophic transfer efficiencies in the tropics and, less critically, (<i>iii</i>) associates elevated trophic transfer efficiencies with benthic-predominant systems. Model catch estimates are generally within a factor of 2 of values spanning two orders of magnitude. Climate change projections show that the same macroecological patterns explaining dramatic regional catch differences in the contemporary ocean amplify catch trends, producing changes that may exceed 50% in some regions by the end of the 21st century under high-emissions scenarios. Models failing to resolve these trophodynamic patterns may significantly underestimate regional fisheries catch trends and hinder adaptation to climate change.
Project description:Keystone species have a disproportionate influence on the structure and function of ecosystems. Here we analyze whether a keystone-like pattern can be observed in the relationship between transnational corporations and marine ecosystems globally. We show how thirteen corporations control 11-16% of the global marine catch (9-13 million tons) and 19-40% of the largest and most valuable stocks, including species that play important roles in their respective ecosystem. They dominate all segments of seafood production, operate through an extensive global network of subsidiaries and are profoundly involved in fisheries and aquaculture decision-making. Based on our findings, we define these companies as keystone actors of the Anthropocene. The phenomenon of keystone actors represents an increasingly important feature of the human-dominated world. Sustainable leadership by keystone actors could result in cascading effects throughout the entire seafood industry and enable a critical transition towards improved management of marine living resources and ecosystems.
Project description:Long-term changes in nutrient supply and primary production reportedly foreshadow substantial declines in global marine fishery production. These declines combined with current overfishing, habitat degradation, and pollution paint a grim picture for the future of marine fisheries and ecosystems. However, current models forecasting such declines do not account for the effects of ocean fronts as biogeochemical hotspots. Here we apply a fundamental technique from fluid dynamics to an ecosystem model to show how fronts increase total ecosystem biomass, explain fishery production, cause regime shifts, and contribute significantly to global biogeochemical budgets by channeling nutrients through alternate trophic pathways. We then illustrate how ocean fronts affect fishery abundance and yield, using long-term records of anchovy-sardine regimes and salmon abundances in the California Current. These results elucidate the fundamental importance of biophysical coupling as a driver of bottom-up vs. top-down regulation and high productivity in marine ecosystems.