The Canadian Beaufort Shelf trophic structure: evaluating an ecosystem modelling approach by comparison with observed stable isotopic structure

Type Article
Date 2022-03
Language English
Author(s) Hoover Carie1, 2, Giraldo CarolinaORCID2, 3, Ehrman Ashley2, Suchy Karyn D.4, Macphee Shannon A.2, Brewster Jasmine D1, 2, Reist Jim D.2, Power Michael5, Swanson Heidi5, Loseto Lisa L.2
Affiliation(s) 1 : Univ Manitoba, Ctr Earth Observat Sci, Winnipeg, MB R3T 2N2, Canada
2 : Fisheries & Oceans Canada, Cent & Arctic Reg, 501 Univ Crescent, Winnipeg, MB R3T 2N6, Canada
3 : IFREMER, HMMN, Ctr Manche Mer Nord, BP 669, F-62321 Boulogne Sur Mer, France
4 : Univ Victoria, Dept Geog, Victoria, BC V8W 2Y2, Canada
5 : Univ Waterloo, Biol Dept, 200 Univ Ave W, Waterloo, ON N2L 3G1, Canada
Source Arctic Science (2368-7460) (Canadian Science Publishing), 2022-03 , Vol. 8 , N. 1 , P. 292-312
DOI 10.1139/AS-2020-0035
WOS© Times Cited 5
Keyword(s) Ecopath with Ecosim, stable isotopes of nitrogen, trophic level, marine ecosystem

Climate-driven impacts on marine trophic pathways worldwide are compounded by sea-ice loss at northern latitudes. For the Arctic, current information describing food web linkages is fragmented, and there is a need for tools that can describe overarching trophic structure despite limited species-specific data. Here, we tested the ability of a mass-balanced ecosystem model (Ecopath with Ecosim, EwE) to reconstruct the trophic hierarchy of 31 groups, from primary producers to polar bears, in the Canadian Beaufort Sea continental shelf. Trophic level (TL) estimates from EwE were compared with those derived from two nitrogen stable isotope (SI) modelling approaches (SI linear and scaled) to assess EwE accuracy, using a dataset of 642 δ15N observations across 282 taxa. TLs from EwE were strongly, positively related to those from both SI models (R2 > 0.80). EwE performed well (within 0.2 TL) for groups with relatively well-known diets or for taxa characterized by fewer trophic connections (e.g., primary consumers). Performance was worse (> 0.5 TL) for species groups aggregated at coarse taxonomic levels, those with poorly documented diets, and for anadromous fishes. Comparisons with SI models suggested that the scaled approach can overestimate the TL of top predators if ecosystem-specific information is not considered.

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Hoover Carie, Giraldo Carolina, Ehrman Ashley, Suchy Karyn D., Macphee Shannon A., Brewster Jasmine D, Reist Jim D., Power Michael, Swanson Heidi, Loseto Lisa L. (2022). The Canadian Beaufort Shelf trophic structure: evaluating an ecosystem modelling approach by comparison with observed stable isotopic structure. Arctic Science, 8(1), 292-312. Publisher's official version : , Open Access version :