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Trends Ecol Evol. 2007 May;22(5):236-42. Epub 2007 Mar 12.

The ups and downs of trophic control in continental shelf ecosystems.

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Ocean Sciences Division, Bedford Institute of Oceanography, Dartmouth, NS, B2Y 4A2, Canada.


Traditionally, marine ecosystem structure was thought to be determined by phytoplankton dynamics. However, an integrated view on the relative roles of top-down (consumer-driven) and bottom-up (resource-driven) forcing in large-scale, exploited marine ecosystems is emerging. Long time series of scientific survey data, underpinning the management of commercially exploited species such as cod, are being used to diagnose mechanisms that could affect the composition and relative abundance of species in marine food webs. By assembling published data from studies in exploited North Atlantic ecosystems, we found pronounced geographical variation in top-down and bottom-up trophic forcing. The data suggest that ecosystem susceptibility to top-down control and their resiliency to exploitation are related to species richness and oceanic temperature conditions. Such knowledge could be used to produce ecosystem guidelines to regulate and manage fisheries in a sustainable fashion.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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