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Nat Ecol Evol. 2019 Aug;3(8):1153-1161. doi: 10.1038/s41559-019-0950-y. Epub 2019 Jul 29.

The marine fish food web is globally connected.

Author information

1
IFREMER, unité Ecologie et Modèles pour l'Halieutique, Nantes, France. albouycamille@gmail.com.
2
Departement de biologie, Faculté des sciences et de génie, Université Laval, Québec, Québec, Canada.
3
Ocean Biogeographic Information System, IODE, Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, UNESCO, Ostend, Belgium.
4
Departmento de Biogeografía y Cambio Global, Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Madrid, Spain.
5
InBio/Centro de Investigação em Biodiversidade e Recursos Genéticos, Universidade de Évora, Évora, Portugal.
6
Center for Macroecology, Evolution, and Climate, Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark.
7
Institut des sciences de la mer, Université du Québec à Rimouski, Rimouski, Québec, Canada.
8
Department of Integrative Biology, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada.
9
Centre for Integrative Ecology, School of Biological Sciences, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand.
10
Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Plant SciencesPhysics, Chemistry and Biology (IFM), Linköping Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.
11
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
12
Centre for Biodiversity Theory and Modelling Station d'Ecologie Théorique et Expérimentale du CNRS, Moulis, France.
13
Department of Biology, Memorial University, St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada.
14
Landscape Ecology, Institute of Terrestrial Ecosystems, Department of Environmental Systems Science, ETH Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland.
15
Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL, Birmensdorf, Switzerland.
16
Département des Sciences Biologiques, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada.
17
Québec Centre for Biodiversity Sciences, McGill University, Montréal, Québec, Canada.
18
EarthLab, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA.
19
eScience Institute, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA.
20
Département de Biologie, Universite de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Québec, Canada.

Abstract

The productivity of marine ecosystems and the services they provide to humans are largely dependent on complex interactions between prey and predators. These are embedded in a diverse network of trophic interactions, resulting in a cascade of events following perturbations such as species extinction. The sheer scale of oceans, however, precludes the characterization of marine feeding networks through de novo sampling. This effort ought instead to rely on a combination of extensive data and inference. Here we investigate how the distribution of trophic interactions at the global scale shapes the marine fish food web structure. We hypothesize that the heterogeneous distribution of species ranges in biogeographic regions should concentrate interactions in the warmest areas and within species groups. We find that the inferred global metaweb of marine fish-that is, all possible potential feeding links between co-occurring species-is highly connected geographically with a low degree of spatial modularity. Metrics of network structure correlate with sea surface temperature and tend to peak towards the tropics. In contrast to open-water communities, coastal food webs have greater interaction redundancy, which may confer robustness to species extinction. Our results suggest that marine ecosystems are connected yet display some resistance to perturbations because of high robustness at most locations.

PMID:
31358950
DOI:
10.1038/s41559-019-0950-y

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