Marine Science Faculty Publications

Potential Impacts of Climate Change on Northeast Pacific Marine Foodwebs and Fisheries

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Although there has been considerable research on the impacts of individual changes in water temperature, carbonate chemistry, and other variables on species, cumulative impacts of these effects have rarely been studied. Here, we simulate changes in (i) primary productivity, (ii) species range shifts, (iii) zooplankton community size structure, (iv) ocean acidification, and (v) ocean deoxygenation both individually and together using five Ecopath with Ecosim models of the northeast Pacific Ocean. We used a standardized method to represent climate effects that relied on time-series forcing functions: annual multipliers of species productivity. We focused on changes in fisheries landings, biomass, and ecosystem characteristics (diversity and trophic indices). Fisheries landings generally declined in response to cumulative effects and often to a greater degree than would have been predicted based on individual climate effects, indicating possible synergies. Total biomass of fished and unfished functional groups displayed a decline, though unfished groups were affected less negatively. Some functional groups (e.g. pelagic and demersal invertebrates) were predicted to respond favourably under cumulative effects in some regions. The challenge of predicting climate change impacts must be met if we are to adapt and manage rapidly changing marine ecosystems in the 21st century.

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ICES Journal of Marine Science, v. 68, issue 6, p. 1217-1229