Fisheries Science

, Volume 76, Issue 3, pp 411–434 | Cite as

The role of flatfishes in the organization and structure of the eastern Bering Sea ecosystem

  • Sung Il Lee
  • Kerim Y. Aydin
  • Paul D. Spencer
  • Thomas K. Wilderbuer
  • Chang Ik Zhang
Original Article Biology


We evaluated the role of flatfishes in the organization and structure of the eastern Bering Sea ecosystem using the Ecopath/Ecosim approach. As basic input data for the Ecopath/Ecosim model, we used estimates of biomass from bottom trawl surveys and age-structured population models, production/biomass (P/B) ratio, consumption/biomass (Q/B) ratio, diet composition (DC), and fisheries harvests for each component of species or species groups. We estimated the trophic level of each component, niche overlaps among flatfishes, and the impacts of competition and predation on flatfish species in the eastern Bering Sea ecosystem. Based on those estimates, we developed the tropho-dynamic structure of the ecosystem, and the model was used to simulate ecological effects of fishery exploitation patterns. No single flatfish species appeared to have a profound and uniquely important role in the organization and structure of the ecosystem. Instead, the most important component among the guild of flatfish species appeared to be yellowfin sole Pleuronectes asper, which had greater biomass than other flatfish and a relatively diverse diet among the small flatfish species. Pacific halibut Hippoglossus stenolepis, Greenland turbot Reinhardtius hippoglossoides, and arrowtooth flounder Atheresthes stomias were important keystone predators in the eastern Bering Sea ecosystem together with some groups of marine mammals and sea birds. Intra flatfish complex cannibalism was not observed, however, substantial diet overlaps were common in the flatfish guild system.


Eastern Bering Sea Ecopath Ecosim Flatfishes Food web 



This work is funded by a grant from the National Fisheries Research and Development Institute (RP-2009-FR-019) and a joint project between Korea and U.S. for scientific and technical cooperation.


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Copyright information

© The Japanese Society of Fisheries Science 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sung Il Lee
    • 1
  • Kerim Y. Aydin
    • 2
  • Paul D. Spencer
    • 2
  • Thomas K. Wilderbuer
    • 2
  • Chang Ik Zhang
    • 3
  1. 1.East Sea Fisheries Research InstituteNational Fisheries Research and Development InstituteGangnungKorea
  2. 2.Alaska Fisheries Science CenterNational Marine Fisheries ServiceSeattleUSA
  3. 3.Pukyong National UniversityBusanKorea

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