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Trophic cascades triggered by overfishing reveal possible mechanisms of ecosystem regime shifts
Daskalov, G.M.; Grishin, A.N.; Rodionov, S.; Mihneva, V. (2007). Trophic cascades triggered by overfishing reveal possible mechanisms of ecosystem regime shifts. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 104(25): 10518-10523
In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. The Academy: Washington, D.C.. ISSN 0027-8424, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 

Keywords
    Ecosystem disturbance; Overfishing; Trophic levels; Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Daskalov, G.M.
  • Grishin, A.N.
  • Rodionov, S.
  • Mihneva, V.

Abstract
    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.

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