Why are marine species where they are? The scientific community is faced with an urgent need to understand aquatic ecosystem dynamics in the context of global change. This requires development of scientific tools with the capability to predict how biodiversity, natural resources, and ecosystem services will change in response to stressors such as climate change and further expansion of fishing. Species distribution models and ecosystem models are two methodologies that are being developed to further this understanding. To date, these methodologies offer limited capabilities to work jointly to produce integrated assessments that take both food web dynamics and spatial-temporal environmental variability into account. We here present a new habitat capacity model as an implementation of the spatial-temporal model Ecospace of the Ecopath with Ecosim approach. The new model offers the ability to drive foraging capacity of species from the cumulative impacts of multiple physical, oceanographic, and environmental factors such as depth, bottom type, temperature, salinity, oxygen concentrations, and so on. We use a simulation modeling procedure to evaluate sampling characteristics of the new habitat capacity model. This development bridges the gap between envelope environmental models and classic ecosystem food web models, progressing toward the ability to predict changes in marine ecosystems under scenarios of global change and explicitly taking food web direct and indirect interactions into account.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Ahrens RNM, Walters CJ, Christensen V. 2012. Foraging arena theory. Fish Fish 13:41–59.
Ainsworth CH, Samhouri JF, Busch DS, Cheung WWL, Dunne JA, Okey TA. 2011. Potential impacts of climate change on Northeast Pacific marine foodwebs and fisheries. ICES J Mar Sci 68:1217–29.
Albouy C, Velez L, Coll M, Colloca F, Le Loch’ F, Mouillot D, Gravel D. 2014. From projected species distribution to food-web structure under climate change. Glob Change Biol 20:730–41.
Araújo JN, Mackinson S, Stanford RJ, Hart PJB. 2008. Exploring fisheries strategies for the western English Channel using an ecosystem model. Ecol Model 210:465–77.
Austin M. 2007. Species distribution models and ecological theory: a critical assessment and some possible new approaches. Ecol Model 200:1–19.
Booth S, Zeller D. 2005. Mercury, food webs and marine mammals: implications of diet and climate change for human health. Environ Health Perspect 113:521–6.
Cheung WWL, Lam VWY, Sarmiento JL, Kearney K, Watson R, Pauly D. 2009. Projecting global marine biodiversity impacts under climate change scenarios. Fish Fish 10:235–51.
Christensen V. 2013. Ecological networks in fisheries: predicting the future? Fisheries 38:76–81.
Christensen V, Coll M, Buszowski J, Cheung W, Frölicher T, Steenbeek J, Stock CA, Watson R, Walters C. Submitted. The global ocean is an ecosystem: simulating marine life and fisheries. Glob Ecol Biogeogr; in review.
Christensen V, Ferdaña Z, Steenbeek J. 2009. Spatial optimization of protected area placement incorporating ecological, social and economical criteria. Ecol Model 220:2583–93.
Christensen V, Guenette S, Heymans JJ, Walters C, Watson R, Zeller D, Pauly D. 2003. Hundred-year decline of North Atlantic predatory fishes. Fish Fish 4:1–24.
Christensen V, Pauly D. 1992. ECOPATH II—a software for balancing steady-state ecosystem models and calculating network characteristics. Ecol Model 61:169–85.
Christensen V, Pauly D. 1993. Trophic models of aquatic ecosystems. ICLARM Conference Proceedings 26, 390 p.
Christensen V, Coll M, Piroddi C, Steenbeek J, Buszowski J, Pauly D. in press. Fish biomass in the world ocean: a century of decline. Mar Ecol Prog Ser. doi:10.3354/meps10946.
Christensen V, Walters C. 2004. Ecopath with Ecosim: methods, capabilities and limitations. Ecol Model 72:109–39.
Christensen V, Walters C, Pauly D, Forrest R. 2008. Ecopath with Ecosim version 6. User guide—November 2008. Lenfest Ocean Futures Project 2008: 235 pp.
Christensen V, Walters CJ. 2011. Progress in the use of ecosystem models for fisheries management. In: Christensen V, Maclean J, Eds. Ecosystem approaches to fisheries: a global perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p 189–205.
Coll M, Bundy A, Shannon LJ. 2008. Ecosystem modelling using the Ecopath with Ecosim approach. In: Megrey B, Moksness E, Eds. Computers in fisheries research. 2nd edn. New York: Springer. p 225–91.
Coll M, Libralato S. 2012. Contributions of food-web modelling for an ecosystem approach of marine resource management in the Mediterranean Sea. Fish Fish 13:60–88.
Coll M, Piroddi C, Albouy C, Ben Rais Lasram F, Cheung W, Christensen V, Karpouzi V, Le Loc F, Mouillot D, Paleczny M, Palomares ML, Steenbeek J, Trujillo P, Watson R, Pauly D. 2012. The Mediterranean Sea under siege: spatial overlap between marine biodiversity, cumulative threats and marine reserves. Glob Ecol Biogeogr 21:465–80.
Coll M, Shannon LJ, Moloney CL, Palomera I, Tudela S. 2006. Comparing trophic flows and fishing impacts of a NW Mediterranean ecosystem with coastal upwelling systems by means of standardized models and indicators. Ecol Model 198:53–70.
Crain CM, Kroeker K, Halpern BS. 2008. Interactive and cumulative effects of multiple human stressors in marine systems. Ecol Lett 11:1304–15.
Criales-Hernandez MI, Duarte LO, Garcia CB, Manjarres L. 2006. Ecosystem impacts of the introduction of bycatch reduction devices in a tropical shrimp trawl fishery: insights through simulation. Fish Res 77:333–42.
Cury PM, Shin YJ, Planque B, Durant JM, Fromentin JM, Kramer-Schadt S, Stenseth NC, Travers M, Grimm V. 2008. Ecosystem oceanography for global change in fisheries. Trends Ecol Evol 23:338–46.
Darling ES, Côté IM. 2008. Quantifying the evidence for ecological synergies. Ecol Lett 11:1278–86.
Elith J, Leathwick JR. 2009. Species Distribution Models: ecological Explanation and Prediction Across Space and Time. Ann Rev Ecol Evol Syst 40:677–97.
Folt CL, Chen CY, Moore MV, Burnaford J. 1999. Synergism and antoagonism among multiple stressors. Limnol Oceanogr 44:864–77.
Fouzai N, Coll M, Palomera I, Santojanni A, Arneri E, Christensen V. 2012. Fishing management scenarios to rebuild exploited resources and ecosystems of the Northern-Central Adriatic (Mediterranean Sea). J Mar Syst 102–105:39–51.
Frank KT, Petrie B, Choi JS, Leggett WC. 2005. Trophic cascades in a formerly COD-dominated ecosystem. Science 308:1621–3.
Fulton E. 2011. Interesting times: winners, losers, and system shifts under climate change around Australia. ICES J Mar Sci 68:1329–42.
Fulton EA. 2010. Approaches to end-to-end ecosystem models. Journal of Marine Systems 81:171–83.
Fulton EA, Smith ADM. 2004. Lessons learnt from a comparison of three ecosystem models for Port Phillip Bay, Australia. Afr J Mar Sci 26(2004):219–43.
Guisan A, Thuiller W. 2005. Predicting species distribution: offering more than simple habitat models. Ecol Lett 8:993–1009.
Guisan A, Zimmermann NE. 2000. Predictive habitat distribution models in ecology. Ecol Model 135:147–86.
Halpern BS, Walbridge S, Selkoe KA, Kappel CV, Micheli F, D’Agrosa C, Bruno JF, Casey KS, Ebert C, Fox HE, Fujita R, Heinemann D, Lenihan HS, Madin EMP, Perry MT, Selig ER, Spalding M, Steneck R, Watson R. 2008. A global map of human impact on marine ecosystems. Science 319:948–52.
Heymans JJ, Coll M, Libralato S, Christensen V. 2012. Ecopath theory, modelling and application to coastal ecosystems. In: Mehta DBA, Ed. Treatise on estuarine and coastal science, Vol. 9.06p 93–113.
Heymans JJ, Shannon LJ, Jarre A. 2004. Changes in the northern Benguela ecosystem over three decades: 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. Ecol Model 172:175–95.
Jackson JBC, Kirby MX, Berger WH, Bjorndal KA, Botsford LW, Bourque BJ, Bradbury RH, Cooke R, Erlandson J, Estes JA, Hughes TP, Kidwell S, Lange CB, Lenihan HS, Pandolfi JM, Peterson CH, Steneck RS, Tegner MJ, Warner RR. 2001. Historical overfishing and the recent collapse of coastal ecosystems. Science 293:629–38.
Jennings S, Kaiser MJ. 1998. The effects of fishing on marine ecosystems. Adv Mar Biol 34:268–352.
Jones MC, Dye SR, Fernandes JA, Frölicher TL, Pinnegar JK, Warren R, Cheung WWL. 2013. Predicting the impact of climate change on threatened species in UK waters. PLoS ONE 8:e54216.
Jones MV, West RJ. 2005. Spatial and temporal variability of seagrass fishes in intermittently closed and open coastal lakes in southeastern Australia. Estuar Coast Shelf Sci 64:277–88.
Kaschner K, Watson R, Trites A, Pauly D. 2006. Mapping world-wide distributions of marine mammal species using a relative environmental suitability (RES) model. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 316:285–310.
Libralato S, Coll M, Tudela S, Palomera I, Pranovi F. 2008. Novel index for quantification of ecosystem effects of fishing as removal of secondary production. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 355:107–29.
Link JS, Yemane D, Shannon LJ, Coll M, Shin YJ, Hill L, Borges MF, Bundy A, Aydin K. 2010. Relating marine ecosystem indicators to fishing and environmental drivers: an elucidation of contrasting responses. ICES J Mar Sci 67:787–95.
Mackinson S, Daskalov G, Heymans JJ, Neira S, Arancibia H, Zetina-Rejón M, Jiang H, Cheng HQ, Coll M, Arreguin-Sanchez F. 2009. Which forcing factors fit? Using ecosystem models to investigate the relative influence of fishing and changes in primary productivity on the dynamics of marine ecosystems. Ecol Model 220:2972–87.
Manickchand-Heileman S, Mendoza-Hill J, Kong AL, Arocha F. 2004. A trophic model for exploring possible ecosystem impacts of fishing in the Gulf of Paria, between Venezuela and Trinidad. Ecol Model 172:307–22.
Martell SJ, Essington TE, Lessard B, Kitchell JF, Walters CJ, Boggs CH. 2005. Interactions of productivity, predation risk, and fishing effort in the efficacy of marine protected areas for the central Pacific. Can J Fish Aquat Sci 62:1320–36.
Micheli F, Amarasekare P, Bascompte J, Gerber LR. 2004. Including species interactions in the design and evaluation of marine reserves: some insights from a predator-prey model. Bull Mar Sci 74:653–69.
Moloney CL, Jarre A, Arancibia H, Bozec YM, Neira S, Roux JP, Shannon LJ. 2005. Comparing the Benguela and Humboldt marine upwelling ecosystems with indicators derived from inter-calibrated models. ICES J Mar Sci 62:493.
Naylor RL, Goldburg RJ, Primavera JH, Kautsky N, Beveridge MCM, Clay J, Folke C, Lubchenco J, Mooney H, Troell M. 2000. Effect of aquaculture on world fish supplies. Nature 405:1017–24.
Parravicini V, Rovere B, Vassallo P, Micheli F, Montefalcone M, Morri C, Paoli C, Albertelli G, Fabiano M, Bianchi CN. 2012. Understanding relationships between conflicting human uses and coastal ecosystems status: a geospatial modeling approach. Ecol Indic 19:253–63.
Pauly D, Christensen V. 1995. Primary production required to sustain global fisheries. Nature 374:255–7.
Pauly D, Christensen V, Guenette S, Pitcher TJ, Sumaila UR, Walters CJ, Watson R, Zeller D. 2002. Towards sustainability in world fisheries. Nature 418:689–95.
Pearson RG, Raxworthy CJ, Nakamura M, Townsend PA. 2007. Predicting species distributions from small numbers of occurrence records: a test case using cryptic geckos in Madagascar. J Biogeogr 34:102–17.
Polovina JJ. 1984. Model of a coral-reef ecosystem. 1. the Ecopath model and its application to French frigate shoals. Coral Reefs 3:1–11.
Ready J, Kaschner K, South AB, Eastwood PD, Rees T, Rius J, Agbayani E, Kullander S, Froese R. 2010. Predicting the distributions of marine organisms at the global scale. Ecol Model 221:467–78.
Root TL, Price JT, Hall KR, Schneider SH, Rosenzweig C, Pounds JA. 2003. Fingerprints of global warming on wild animals and plants. Nature 421:57–60.
Sala OE, Chapin FS, Armesto JJ, Berlow E, Bloomfield J, Dirzo R, Huber-Sanwald E, Huenneke LF, Jackson RB, Kinzig A, Leemans R, Lodge DM, Mooney HA, Oesterheld M, Poff NL, Sykes MT, Walker BH, Walker M, Wall DH. 2000. Biodiversity—global biodiversity scenarios for the year 2100. Science 287:1770–4.
Steenbeek J, Coll M, Gurney L, Melin F, Hoepffner N, Buszowski J, Christensen V. 2013. Bridging the gap between ecosystem modeling tools and geographic information systems: driving a food web model with external spatial–temporal data. Ecol. Model. 263:139–51.
Stock C, Alexander MA, Bond NA, Brander KM, Cheung W, Curchitser EN, Delworth TL, Dunne J, Griffies SM, Haltuch MA. 2011. On the use of IPCC-class models to assess the impact of climate on living marine resources. Prog Oceanogr 88:1–27.
Sukhdev PC. 2008. The economics of ecosystems and biodiversity. An interim report. Cambridge: Banson.
Ueno D, Kajiwara N, Tanaka H, Subramanian A, Fillmann G, Lam P, Zheng G, Muchitar M, Razak H, Prudente M. 2004. Global pollution monitoring of polybrominated diphenyl ethers using skipjack tuna as a bioindicator. Environ Sci Technol 38:2312–16.
Vitousek PM, Mooney HA, Lubchenco J, Melillo JM. 1997. Human domination of Earth’s ecosystems. Science 277:494–9.
Walters C. 2000. Impacts of dispersal, ecological interactions, and fishing effort dynamics on efficacy of marine protected areas: how large should protected areas be? Bull Mar Sci 66:745–57.
Walters C, Christensen V, Pauly D. 1997. Structuring dynamic models of exploited ecosystems from trophic mass-balance assessments. Rev Fish Biol Fish 7:139–72.
Walters C, Christensen V, Walters W, Rose K. 2010. Representation of multistanza life histories in Ecospace models for spatial organization of ecosystem trophic interaction patterns. Bull Mar Sci 86:439–59.
Walters C, Martell SJD, Christensen V, Mahmoudi B. 2008. An Ecosim model for exploring Gulf of Mexico ecosystem management options: implications of including multistanza life-history models for policy predictions. Bull Mar Sci 83:251–71.
Walters C, Pauly D, Christensen V. 1999. Ecospace: prediction of mesoscale spatial patterns in trophic relationships of exploited ecosystems, with emphasis on the impacts of marine protected areas. Ecosystems 2:539–54.
Walters C, Pauly D, Christensen V, Kitchell JF. 2000. Representing density dependent consequences of life history strategies in aquatic ecosystems: EcoSim II. Ecosystems 3:70–83.
Walters CJ, Martell SJD. 2004. Fisheries ecology and management. Princeton, NJ (USA): Princeton University Press. pp 229–55.
Wilting HC, Ahrens RNM, Neumann K, van den Berg M, Christensen V, ten Brink B. Scenarios for global fisheries: impacts on marine and terrestrial biodiversity. Global Environmental Change, in review
Worm B, Barbier EB, Beaumont N, Duffy JE, Folke C, Halpern BS, Jackson JBC, Lotze HK, Micheli F, Palumbi SR, Sala E, Selkoe KA, Stachowicz JJ, Watson R. 2006. Impacts of Biodiversity Loss on Ocean Ecosystem Services. Science 314:787–90.
MC was funded by the European Commission through the Marie Curie Career Integration Grant Fellowships to the BIOWEB project and the Spanish National Program Ramon y Cajal. This study forms a contribution to the Spanish Research project ECOTRANS. VC acknowledges support from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. We thank Tom Caruthers for discussions about simulation modeling procedures.
VC and CJW conceived of and designed the study; CJW, JS, JB, MC, and VC contributed new methods and models; all authors contributed to the evaluation of the study and writing of the paper.
About this article
Cite this article
Christensen, V., Coll, M., Steenbeek, J. et al. Representing Variable Habitat Quality in a Spatial Food Web Model. Ecosystems 17, 1397–1412 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10021-014-9803-3
- food web model
- species distribution model
- habitat modeling
- foraging capacity model
- simulation model