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Fishing impacts on the trophic functioning of marine ecosystems, a comparative approach using trophodynamic models Colléter, Mathieu

Abstract

Faced with the global overexploitation of marine resources and the rapid degradation of ecosystems’ integrity, many states agreed to the principle of an ecosystem approach to fisheries (EAF). In fact, overfishing induces strong decrease of targeted species biomass, which impact predators, their competitors, prey, and ultimately the ecosystems’ trophic networks. Thus, it is an important challenge to understand the trophic functioning of marine ecosystems and the related impacts of fisheries. In this spirit, my thesis was developed to address concerns about the potential impacts of fisheries on the underlying trophic functioning, and to better understand this trophic functioning and its variability through ecosystems. Two well-known trophodynamic models were used : Ecopath with Ecosim (EwE) and EcoTroph (ET). First, I developed EcoBase, i.e., an online repository to gather and communicate information from EwE models, which enabled to give a global overview of the applications of the EwE modeling approach. Then, the ET model was corrected and standardized through the creation of a software package in R. A new trophic control, i.e., foraging arena (FA) trophic control, was integrated to study its impacts on trophic flows and fishing effects on aquatic ecosystem trophic networks. I showed that that making ecosystem behavior more realistic by incorporating FA controls into EcoTroph decreased the resistance and the production of modeled ecosystems facing increasing fishing mortality. An analysis of case studies focusing on marine protected areas (MPAs) was then performed using EwE and ET. I analyzed the potential spillover effect from three MPAs, and showed that their potential exports were at the same order of magnitude as the amount of catch that could have been obtained inside the reserve. Finally, a meta-analysis of marine ecosystem trophic functioning was conducted using 127 EwE models, which showed that ecosystem types were distinguished by different biomass trophic spectra and associated trophic indices. These differences were mainly driven by different production, but also kinetic for some ecosystem types. In conclusion, trophodynamic models, as EwE and ET, appeared to be useful tools to better understand the trophic functioning of marine ecosystems, its variability through ecosystems, and the associated impacts of fisheries.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada

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