Effects of adaptive harvesting on fishing down processes and resilience changes in predator-prey and tritrophic systems

10.24072/pcjournal.268 - Peer Community Journal, Volume 3 (2023), article no. e52.

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Many world fisheries display a declining mean trophic level of catches. This “fishing down the food web” is often attributed to reduced densities of high-trophic-level species. We show here that the fishing down pattern can actually emerge from the adaptive harvesting of two- and three-species food webs, where changes in fishing patterns are driven by the relative profitabilities of the harvested species. Shifting fishing patterns from a focus on higher trophic levels to a focus on lower trophic levels can yield abrupt changes in the system, strongly impacting species densities. In predator-prey systems, such regime shifts occur when the predator species is highly valuable relative to the prey, and when the top-down control on the prey is strong. Moreover, we find that when the two species are jointly harvested, high adaptation speeds can reduce the resilience of fisheries. Our results therefore suggest that flexibility in harvesting strategies will not necessarily benefit fisheries but may actually harm their sustainability.

Published online:
DOI: 10.24072/pcjournal.268
Keywords: Adaptive harvesting, fishing pattern, fishing down the food web, regime shift, resilience, social-ecological system
Tromeur, Eric 1, 2; Loeuille, Nicolas 1

1 Sorbonne Université, Université de Paris-Cité, UPEC, CNRS, INRAE, IRD, UMR 7618, Institute of Ecology and Environmental Sciences – Paris, France
2 AgroParisTech, Univ Paris-Saclay, Palaiseau, France
License: CC-BY 4.0
Copyrights: The authors retain unrestricted copyrights and publishing rights
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Tromeur, Eric; Loeuille, Nicolas. Effects of adaptive harvesting on fishing down processes and resilience changes in predator-prey and tritrophic systems. Peer Community Journal, Volume 3 (2023), article  no. e52. doi : 10.24072/pcjournal.268.

Peer reviewed and recommended by PCI : 10.24072/pci.ecology.100417

Conflict of interest of the recommender and peer reviewers:
The recommender in charge of the evaluation of the article and the reviewers declared that they have no conflict of interest (as defined in the code of conduct of PCI) with the authors or with the content of the article.

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