A spatial regime shift from predator to prey dominance in a large coastal ecosystemEklöf, J. S., Sundblad, G., Erlandsson, M., Donadi, S., Hansen, J. P., Eriksson, B. K. & Bergström, U., 27-Aug-2020, In : Communications biology. 3, 1, 9 p., 459.
Research output: Contribution to journal › Article › Academic › peer-review
Regime shifts in ecosystem structure and processes are typically studied from a temporal perspective. Yet, theory predicts that in large ecosystems with environmental gradients, shifts should start locally and gradually spread through space. Here we empirically document a spatially propagating shift in the trophic structure of a large aquatic ecosystem, from dominance of large predatory fish (perch, pike) to the small prey fish, the three-spined stickleback. Fish surveys in 486 shallow bays along the 1200 km western Baltic Sea coast during 1979–2017 show that the shift started in wave-exposed archipelago areas near the open sea, but gradually spread towards the wave-sheltered mainland coast. Ecosystem surveys in 32 bays in 2014 show that stickleback predation on juvenile predators (predator–prey reversal) generates a feedback mechanism that appears to reinforce the shift. In summary, managers must account for spatial heterogeneity and dispersal to better predict, detect and confront regime shifts within large ecosystems.
|Number of pages||9|
|Publication status||Published - 27-Aug-2020|
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