Southern Ocean ecosystems are globally important. Processes in the Antarctic atmosphere, cryosphere, and the Southern Ocean directly influence global atmospheric and oceanic systems. Southern Ocean biogeochemistry has also been shown to have global importance. In contrast, ocean ecological processes are often seen as largely separate from the rest of the global system. In this paper, we consider the degree of ecological connectivity at different trophic levels, linking Southern Ocean ecosystems with the global ocean, and their importance not only for the regional ecosystem but also the wider Earth system. We also consider the human system connections, including the role of Southern Ocean ecosystems in supporting society, culture, and economy in many nations, influencing public and political views and hence policy. Rather than Southern Ocean ecosystems being defined by barriers at particular oceanic fronts, ecological changes are gradual due to cross-front exchanges involving oceanographic processes and organism movement. Millions of seabirds and hundreds of thousands of cetaceans move north out of polar waters in the austral autumn interacting in food webs across the Southern Hemisphere, and a few species cross the equator. A number of species migrate into the east and west ocean-basin boundary current and continental shelf regions of themore »
An ecological network approach to predict ecosystem service vulnerability to species losses
Abstract Human-driven threats are changing biodiversity, impacting ecosystem services. The loss of one species can trigger secondary extinctions of additional species, because species interact–yet the consequences of these secondary extinctions for services remain underexplored. Herein, we compare robustness of food webs and the ecosystem services (hereafter ‘services’) they provide; and investigate factors determining service responses to secondary extinctions. Simulating twelve extinction scenarios for estuarine food webs with seven services, we find that food web and service robustness are highly correlated, but that robustness varies across services depending on their trophic level and redundancy. Further, we find that species providing services do not play a critical role in stabilizing food webs – whereas species playing supporting roles in services through interactions are critical to the robustness of both food webs and services. Together, our results reveal indirect risks to services through secondary species losses and predictable differences in vulnerability across services.
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- Journal Name:
- Nature Communications
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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