Potential role of predators on carbon dynamics of marine ecosystems as assessed by a Bayesian belief network
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Authors: Stafford, R., Ramirez, M., Vera Izurieta, D.F., Cornejo, M. and Chavarria, J.
Journal: Ecological Informatics
© 2016 The Authors While the effects of climate change on top predators are well documented, the role of predation on ecosystem level carbon production is poorly developed, despite it being a logical consequence of trophic dynamics. Trophic cascade effects have shown predator mediated changes in primary production, but we predict that predators should lower the overall biomass capacity of any system with top down control. Through a simple Bayesian belief network model of a typical marine foodweb, we show that predator removal, as is common through activities such as fishing and shark finning, results in higher biomasses of lower trophic level fish and zooplankton, resulting in higher net carbon production by the system. In situations common throughout much of the ocean, where activities such as shark finning and over fishing reduce the highest tropic levels, the probability of net carbon production increasing in the model was ~ 60%, and unlike previous studies on simple food chains, trophic cascade effects were not present. While the results are preliminary, and sources of uncertainty in data and models are acknowledged, such results provide even more strength to the argument to protect open sea fish stocks, and particularly large predators such as sharks, cetaceans and game fish.
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Authors: Spiers, E.K.A., Stafford, R., Ramirez, M., Vera Izurieta, D.F., Cornejo, M. and Chavarria, J.
Journal: ECOLOGICAL INFORMATICS