Responses of ecological indicators to fishing pressure under environmental change: exploring non-linearity and thresholds

Caihong Fu, Yi Xu, Arnaud Grüss, Alida Bundy, Lynne Shannon, Johanna J Heymans, Ghassen Halouani, Ekin Akoglu, Christopher P Lynam, Marta Coll, Elizabeth A Fulton, Laure Velez, Yunne-jai Shin, Jason Link

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)
27 Downloads (Pure)


Marine ecosystems are influenced by multiple stressors in both linear and non-linear ways. Using generalized additive models (GAMs) fitted to outputs from a multi-ecosystem, multi-model simulation experiment, we investigated 14 major ecological indicators across ten marine ecosystems about their responses to fishing pressure under: (i) three different fishing strategies (focusing on low-, high-, or all-trophic-level taxa); and (ii) four different scenarios of directional or random primary productivity change, a proxy for environmental change. From this work, we draw four major conclusions: (i) responses of indicators to fishing mortality in shapes, directions, and thresholds depend on the fishing strategies considered; (ii) most of the indicators demonstrate decreasing trends with increasing fishing mortality, with a few exceptions depending on the type of fishing strategy; (iii) most of the indicators respond to fishing mortality in a linear way, particularly for community and biomass-based indicators; and (iv) occurrence of threshold for non-linear-mixed type (i.e. non-linear with inflection points) is not prevalent within the fishing mortality rates explored. The conclusions drawn from the present study provide a knowledge base in indicators’ dynamics under different fishing and primary productivity levels, thereby facilitating the application of ecosystem-based fisheries management worldwide.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1516-1531
Number of pages16
JournalICES Journal of Marine Science
Issue number4
Early online date27 Sept 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Sept 2019


  • Ecosystem based fisheries management
  • generalized additive model
  • marine ecosystem model
  • non-linear response
  • primary productivity


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