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Science. 2005 Jun 10;308(5728):1621-3.

Trophic cascades in a formerly cod-dominated ecosystem.

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  • 1Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Bedford Institute of Oceanography, Ocean Sciences Division, Post Office Box 1006, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, B2Y 4A2, Canada.


Removal of top predators from ecosystems can result in cascading effects through the trophic levels below, completely restructuring the food web. Cascades have been observed in small-scale or simple food webs, but not in large, complex, open-ocean ecosystems. Using data spanning many decades from a once cod-dominated northwest Atlantic ecosystem, we demonstrate a trophic cascade in a large marine ecosystem. Several cod stocks in other geographic areas have also collapsed without recovery, suggesting the existence of trophic cascades in these systems.

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