Evaluating trophic and non-trophic effects of shellfish aquaculture in a coastal estuarine foodweb

Ferriss, Bridget E.; Reum, Jonathan C. P.; McDonald, P. Sean; Farrell, Dara M.; Harvey, Chris J.
January 2016
ICES Journal of Marine Science / Journal du Conseil;Jan/Feb2016, Vol. 73 Issue 2, p429
Academic Journal
Expansion of the shellfish aquaculture industry has the potential to affect the structure and dynamics of coastal estuarine foodwebs. To better understand foodweb trade-offs, we incorporated both trophic and non-trophic interactions (e.g. habitat facilitation and predator refuge) into a foodweb model of central Puget Sound to predict the effects of an increase in geoduck (Panopea generosa) aquaculture. At a basin scale, the foodweb can support at least 120% increased geoduck aquaculture, above current production levels (landings of 10 546 kg in 2012), with only minor changes in individual species' biomass and/or metrics of ecosystem resilience. The non-trophic effects of increased geoduck aquaculture, related to the influence of anti-predator structure, had a stronger influence on the foodweb than the trophic role of cultured geoducks as filter-feeders and prey to other species. Increased geoduck culture caused substantial increases in biomass densities of surfperch, nearshore demersal fish, and small crabs, and decreases in seabirds, flatfish, and certain invertebrates (e.g. predatory gastropods and small crustaceans). This study identifies species that should be a priority for additional empirical research and monitoring related to bivalve aquaculture interactions, including demersal fish, small crustaceans, and seabirds. It also provides insights into the benefits and challenges of incorporating habitat-related data into a foodweb model. Understanding these relationships can inform management decisions by clarifying trade-offs in ecosystem functions and services in Puget Sound and facilitates estimation of direct and cumulative effects of bivalve aquaculture at a foodweb scale.


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