BECAUSE investigates the quantitative role of species interactions as a first step towards the implementation of the ecosystem approach into fisheries management. The focus is on simple but critical interactions in the upper trophic levels of marine food webs. This refers specifically to the interactions between exploited prey fish populations, exploited fish predators and wild life such as sea birds and marine mammals dependent on the same prey fish populations.
In most European shelf ecosystems fish predator populations are severely depleted, and this has released predation pressure on prey fish populations substantially. In part, man has taken over the role and harvests this part of the prey fish production either for human consumption or for reduction to fish meal. An exact quantitative understanding of these interactions becomes essential, once recovery plans for the over fished predator stocks become operational and effective.
The interactions targeted for investigation are sandeel/predator fish, nephrops/cod, capelin/cod herring/cod, sprat/cod, hake/prey fish, hake and cod cannibalism. These interactions will be studied in 5 different case studies: Nordic Seas, North Sea, Baltic Sea, Iberian Shelf/Bay of Biscay and Mediterranean Sea. The analysis will start with the development of conceptual food web models in each case study. This will include the detailed analysis of processes driving critical interactions, mainly prey selection, predator prey overlap and its dependence on biological and hydrographical factors, consumption, growth and maturity. Special emphasis will be given on updates of the population numbers of dependent wild life and revisions of their feeding behaviour and food requirements. The process analysis results in improved process models which are in turn used to improve existing multi species models...
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Funding SchemeSTREP - Specific Targeted Research Project