Climate forcing, food web structure, and community dynamics in pelagic marine ecosystems
The Eastern Bering Sea (EBS), the Gulf of Alaska (GOA), and the Barents Sea (BS) share key features: they are dominated by gadoids populations, they are heavily fished, and they are under the influence of large-scale climatic fluctuations. Previous studies have shown that climate forcing can impact the species composition and the food webs in each of these ecosystems. However, food webs and species interactions can mediate the relative impact of climatic perturbation on community. For example, a relatively small increase in SST over the western GOA region during the mid-1970s led to a spectacular change in the local species community, but a reverse in climatic conditions that occurred during the late 1980s did not result in similar biological changes. This chapter reviews the food webs of the GOA, EBS, and BS, and relates them to prevailing large-scale climatic phases. The comparative approach adopted in this review is aimed at increasing the understanding of the mechanisms linking climate change and food web dynamics in marine ecosystems.
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