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      Mesopelagic zone ecology and biogeochemistry – a synthesis

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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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            Impact of climate change on marine pelagic phenology and trophic mismatch.

            Phenology, the study of annually recurring life cycle events such as the timing of migrations and flowering, can provide particularly sensitive indicators of climate change. Changes in phenology may be important to ecosystem function because the level of response to climate change may vary across functional groups and multiple trophic levels. The decoupling of phenological relationships will have important ramifications for trophic interactions, altering food-web structures and leading to eventual ecosystem-level changes. Temperate marine environments may be particularly vulnerable to these changes because the recruitment success of higher trophic levels is highly dependent on synchronization with pulsed planktonic production. Using long-term data of 66 plankton taxa during the period from 1958 to 2002, we investigated whether climate warming signals are emergent across all trophic levels and functional groups within an ecological community. Here we show that not only is the marine pelagic community responding to climate changes, but also that the level of response differs throughout the community and the seasonal cycle, leading to a mismatch between trophic levels and functional groups.
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              Climate change affects marine fishes through the oxygen limitation of thermal tolerance.

              A cause-and-effect understanding of climate influences on ecosystems requires evaluation of thermal limits of member species and of their ability to cope with changing temperatures. Laboratory data available for marine fish and invertebrates from various climatic regions led to the hypothesis that, as a unifying principle, a mismatch between the demand for oxygen and the capacity of oxygen supply to tissues is the first mechanism to restrict whole-animal tolerance to thermal extremes. We show in the eelpout, Zoarces viviparus, a bioindicator fish species for environmental monitoring from North and Baltic Seas (Helcom), that thermally limited oxygen delivery closely matches environmental temperatures beyond which growth performance and abundance decrease. Decrements in aerobic performance in warming seas will thus be the first process to cause extinction or relocation to cooler waters.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography
                Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography
                Elsevier BV
                09670645
                August 2010
                August 2010
                : 57
                : 16
                : 1504-1518
                Article
                10.1016/j.dsr2.2010.02.018
                © 2010

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