Honey, I cooled the cods: Modelling the effect of temperature on the structure of Boreal/Arctic fish ecosystems

J.G. Pope, J. Falk-Pedersen, S. Jennings, J.C. Rice, H. Gislason, N. Daan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Historically colder regions of the North Atlantic had fisheries dominated by only a few fish species; principally cod and capelin. Possible population dynamic mechanisms that lead to such dominance are investigated by considering how a charmingly simple published multispecies model of the North Sea would react if the system operated at a lower temperature. The existing model equations were modified to describe temperature effects on growth, fecundity and recruitment and the model was rerun based on typical temperatures for the North Sea and a colder system. The results suggest that total fish biomass in the colder system increases but the community is more vulnerable to a given rate of fishing mortality. In the colder system, within species density dependence is reduced but relative predation rates are higher. Consequently, intermediate-sized species are vulnerable to relatively high levels of predation throughout their life history and tend to be excluded, leading to a system dominated by small and large species. The model helps to explain how temperature may govern coexistence and competitive exclusion in fish communities and accounts for the observed dominance of small and large species in Boreal/Arctic ecosystems.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2097-2107
JournalDeep-Sea Research. Part II, tropical studies in oceanography
Issue number21-22
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • north-sea cod
  • gadus-morhua
  • species-diversity
  • transient dynamics
  • predator-prey
  • marine fish
  • food webs
  • coexistence
  • size
  • biodiversity

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