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      Use of marine protected areas and exclusive economic zones in the subtropical western North Atlantic Ocean by large highly mobile sharks

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      Diversity and Distributions
      Wiley-Blackwell

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          Fishing down marine food webs

          The mean trophic level of the species groups reported in Food and Agricultural Organization global fisheries statistics declined from 1950 to 1994. This reflects a gradual transition in landings from long-lived, high trophic level, piscivorous bottom fish toward short-lived, low trophic level invertebrates and planktivorous pelagic fish. This effect, also found to be occurring in inland fisheries, is most pronounced in the Northern Hemisphere. Fishing down food webs (that is, at lower trophic levels) leads at first to increasing catches, then to a phase transition associated with stagnating or declining catches. These results indicate that present exploitation patterns are unsustainable.
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            Cascading effects of the loss of apex predatory sharks from a coastal ocean.

            Impacts of chronic overfishing are evident in population depletions worldwide, yet indirect ecosystem effects induced by predator removal from oceanic food webs remain unpredictable. As abundances of all 11 great sharks that consume other elasmobranchs (rays, skates, and small sharks) fell over the past 35 years, 12 of 14 of these prey species increased in coastal northwest Atlantic ecosystems. Effects of this community restructuring have cascaded downward from the cownose ray, whose enhanced predation on its bay scallop prey was sufficient to terminate a century-long scallop fishery. Analogous top-down effects may be a predictable consequence of eliminating entire functional groups of predators.
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              Predicting ecological consequences of marine top predator declines.

              Recent studies document unprecedented declines in marine top predators that can initiate trophic cascades. Predicting the wider ecological consequences of these declines requires understanding how predators influence communities by inflicting mortality on prey and inducing behavioral modifications (risk effects). Both mechanisms are important in marine communities, and a sole focus on the effects of predator-inflicted mortality might severely underestimate the importance of predators. We outline direct and indirect consequences of marine predator declines and propose an integrated predictive framework that includes risk effects, which appear to be strongest for long-lived prey species and when resources are abundant. We conclude that marine predators should be managed for the maintenance of both density- and risk-driven ecological processes, and not demographic persistence alone.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Diversity and Distributions
                Diversity Distrib.
                Wiley-Blackwell
                13669516
                May 2016
                May 2016
                : 22
                : 5
                : 534-546
                Article
                10.1111/ddi.12425
                f1d44996-648e-49e8-b263-d7d010a72174
                © 2016

                http://doi.wiley.com/10.1002/tdm_license_1.1

                Product
                Self URI (article page): http://doi.wiley.com/10.1111/ddi.12425

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