Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries

, Volume 25, Issue 2, pp 337–363 | Cite as

Habitat-specific food webs and trophic interactions supporting coastal-dependent fishery species: an Australian case study

  • Kátya G. AbrantesEmail author
  • Adam Barnett
  • Ronald Baker
  • Marcus Sheaves


Coastal ecosystems such as estuaries, tidal wetlands and shallow coastal waters are often highly productive and provide important habitats to many recreationally and commercially important fish and invertebrates that use these areas as nursery, feeding and/or reproduction grounds. The diversity of coastlines found worldwide results in differences in types of provisioning and function, and in community structure and trophic organisation. Since almost all coastal fishery species require particular components of the seascapes during specific stages of their life-cycles, it is important to understand the way fish use different habitats throughout ontogeny. Access to rich feeding environments is a key contributor to habitat value, and so knowledge on food webs and feeding relationships, and how these vary over space and time, is central to understanding the importance of the different coastal environments. However, the functional roles of the different habitats in supporting fishery species are still not well understood for most regions. In this study, we review and discuss the available literature to identify key knowledge gaps in the understanding of habitat- and context-specific food webs and trophic interactions supporting fisheries species relying on coastal ecosystems. We use Australia and Australian fisheries species as a case-study, as Australia’s extensive coastline encompasses many of the coastal ecosystems and habitats found globally. Given the ever increasing transformation of coastal landscapes by either direct human action or by sea level rise and changing climate, these knowledge gaps need to be urgently addressed for appropriate management and mitigation of various impacts.


Connectivity Critical habitats Fish Fisheries Primary producers 



This review was supported by the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) grant and by a grant from Winifred Violet Scott Foundation to KA. RB is partially supported by a post-doctoral fellowship from the Tropical Landscapes Joint Venture between CSIRO and JCU. We thank the reviewers for constructive comments on an earlier version of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kátya G. Abrantes
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Adam Barnett
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ronald Baker
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Marcus Sheaves
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.College of Marine and Environmental SciencesJames Cook UniversityTownsvilleAustralia
  2. 2.Centre for Tropical Water and Aquatic Ecosystem Research (TropWATER)James Cook UniversityTownsvilleAustralia
  3. 3.CSIROTownsvilleAustralia

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