Volume 42 Issue 11
Nov.  2023
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Congjun Xu, Jun Xu, Fan Li, Yiping Ren, Ying Xue. Impacts of species depletion on the food web structure of a marine ecosystem based on topological network analysis[J]. Acta Oceanologica Sinica, 2023, 42(11): 136-145. doi: 10.1007/s13131-023-2190-x
Citation: Congjun Xu, Jun Xu, Fan Li, Yiping Ren, Ying Xue. Impacts of species depletion on the food web structure of a marine ecosystem based on topological network analysis[J]. Acta Oceanologica Sinica, 2023, 42(11): 136-145. doi: 10.1007/s13131-023-2190-x

Impacts of species depletion on the food web structure of a marine ecosystem based on topological network analysis

doi: 10.1007/s13131-023-2190-x
Funds:  The National Key R&D Program of China under contract No. 2018YFD0900904; the National Natural Science Foundation of China under contract Nos 31772852 and 31802301.
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  • Single-species management ignores the interactions between species, and ecosystem-based fisheries management (EBFM) has become a main method to fisheries management. Understanding food web structures and species interactions is essential for the implementation of EBFM and maintenance of ecosystem functions. Overfishing is one of the main reasons behind the depletion, which could even lead to the depletion of some target species in local areas. So understanding the impacts of species depletion on food web structures is important for the implementation of EBFM. The impacts of species depletion can be transmitted through the food web and cause the local extinction of both target and non-target species. In this study, topological network analysis was applied to examine the impacts of species depletion on the food web structure of Haizhou Bay. Results showed that fine crayfish Leptochela gracilis, squid Loligo sp., and Japanese snapping shrimp Alpheus japonicus have the highest numbers of outgoing links (48, 32 and 31 respectively); thus, these species may be considered key prey species. Whitespotted conger Conger myriaster, fat greenling Hexagrammos otakii, and bluefin gurnard Chelidonichthys kumu were key predators with the highest number of incoming links (37, 36 and 35 respectively). The competition graphs derived from the Haizhou Bay food web were highly connected (more than 40% predators sharing over 10 common prey species), and showed close trophic interaction between high trophic level fishes. Simulation analysis showed that the food web structure has small changes to the depletion of species in a highly complex food web. The most-connected target species did not necessarily indicate high structural importance; however, some species with low connectivity may demonstrate stronger trophic interactions and play important ecological roles in the food web. But most species were more sensitive to the depletion of the most-connected target species than other target species (for instance, for zooplankton, closeness centrality 13.876 in D6, but closeness centrality 82.143 in original food web). Therefore, EBFM should focus on the most-connected target species, but also on those species with few but strong links and feeding relationships in the food web.
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