Chapter

Pelagic Ecosystem Response to a Century of Commercial Fishing and Whaling

TIMOTHY E. ESSINGTON

in Whales, Whaling, and Ocean Ecosystems

Published by University of California Press

Published in print January 2007 | ISBN: 9780520248847
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520933200 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520248847.003.0005
Pelagic Ecosystem Response to a Century of Commercial Fishing and Whaling

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Given the potentially important role of apex predators as structuring agents in ecosystems, some have speculated that whaling and fishing might have dramatically altered pelagic food webs. This chapter attempts to address this hypothesis by using a food web model to characterize contemporary food web structure and to reconstruct historical food web structure prior to the advent of industrial whaling and fishing. The strategy for this modeling exercise is to specify the contemporary state of the food web in terms of biomass, productivities, consumption rates, food habits, and fisheries and to use this information to initialize a dynamic food web model. The dynamic food web model is then used to simulate the changes in food web structure that might be expected in a food web without whaling and fishing, in the hope of gaining a glimpse of what the pre-exploitation food web might have looked like.

Keywords: apex predators; ecosystem agents; whaling; fishing; pelagic food webs

Chapter.  8499 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Aquatic Biology

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