Trophodynamics and stability of regional scale ecosystems in the northeast atlantic
Power, A. M.
Johnson, M. P.
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McGinty, N. Power, A. M.; Johnson, M. P. (2012). Trophodynamics and stability of regional scale ecosystems in the northeast atlantic. ICES Journal of Marine Science 69 (5), 764-775
This study addresses the long-term stability of three trophic groupings in the Northeast Atlantic at regional scales. The most abundant taxa representing phytoplankton, herbivorous copepods, and carnivorous zooplankton were examined from the Continuous Plankton Recorder database. Multivariate control charts using a Bray-Curtis similarity metric were used to assess whether fluctuations within trophic groupings were within or beyond the expected variability. Two evaluation periods were examined: annual changes between 1960 and 1999 (2000-2009 baseline) and recent changes between 2000 and 2009 (1960-1999 baseline). The trends over time in abundance/ biomass of trophic levels were region-specific, especially in carnivorous copepods, where abundance did not mirror trends in the overall study area. The stability of phytoplankton was within the expected limits, although not in 2008 and 2009. Higher trophic levels were less stable, perhaps reflecting the added complexity of interactions governing their abundance. In addition, some regions were consistently less stable than others. Correlations in stability between adjacent trophic levels were positive at large marine ecosystem scale but generally non-significant at regional scales. The study suggests that certain regions may be particularly vulnerable to periods of instability in community structure. The benefits of using the control chart method rather than other multivariate measures of plankton dynamics are discussed.