Research reveals fishing pressures affect tropical and temperate reefs differently

Science Daily

In a study published recently in Ecology and Evolution, an international team of researchers focused on what can happen to ocean ecosystems when fishing pressure increases or decreases, and how this differs between tropical to temperate marine ecosystems. The team, led by Elizabeth Madin, researcher at the Hawai’i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB) in the University of Hawai’i (UH) at M?noa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), found ecosystems do not respond universally to fishing.

There has been much debate about the degree to which ocean ecosystems are impacted by fishing, also termed “top-down forcing” because such changes occur when predators at the top of the food web are removed, versus the availability of nutrients and other resources in an ecosystem, termed “bottom-up forcing.”

“Examples from a variety of marine systems of exploitation-induced, top-down forcing have led to a general view that human-induced predator perturbations can disrupt entire marine food webs, yet other studies that have found no such evidence provide a counterpoint,” said Madin.

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