UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Information Supporting Past and Present Ecosystem Models of Northern British Columbia and the Newfoundland Shelf Pitcher, Tony J.; Vasconcellos, Marcelo, 1971-; Heymans, Johanna J.; Brignall, Claire; Haggan, Nigel


This 116-page report presents information on the organisms, gathered into functional trophic groups, that form the basis of ecosystem models of the Newfoundland Shelf and Northern British Columbia. The information derives from reviews of the literature, from 12 papers submitted to the report, and from discussions at two science workshops, one on each coast, held in September 2000 and each attended by about 18 scientists, including experts on particular groups of organisms. In addition to the present day, information on what these ecosystems were like at various times in the past is also presented. For Newfoundland, work is focused on 1450, representing a time prior to contact of native peoples with European settlers, 1900, 1950 and the present day. For northern British Columbia, the equivalent time periods are 1750, 1900, 1950 and the present. Papers discuss the choice of these times in relation to major shifts in the exploitation of these marine ecosystems. The report contains workshop notes on 24 functional groups in Newfoundland (baleen whales, porpoises, harp seals, hooded seals, seabirds, cod, Greenland halibut, American plaice, flounder, skate, redfish, capelin, arctic cod, sandlance, large and small demersals, large pelagics, small piscivororous pelagics, small planktivorous fish, shrimp, large crustaceans, benthic invertebrates, zooplankton, phytoplankton and kelp), while 18 functional groups are covered for northern BC (baleen whales, toothed whales, sea otters, seals, sealions, seabirds, dogfish, Pacific salmon, halibut, Pacific cod, groundfish, flatfish, Pacific herring, eulachon, invertebrates, sponge reefs and macrophytes). Papers discuss data availability at DFO, the historical reconstruction of seabird populations in Newfoundland, histories of the BC whales and the BC trawl fishery and the use of traditional knowledge. Preliminary model structures and parameters are discussed for each site and time period in relation to previous models of these areas. A web site where current versions of the ecosystem models is provided. The material in this report will be used in the construction of ecosystem simulation models for each of the time periods past and present as part of a Back to the Future project, in which past ecosystem states are used as policy goals for future reconstruction of fisheries and marine ecosystems.

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