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Discard-ban policies can help improve our understanding of the ecological role of food availability to seabirds
Enric Real, Giacomo Tavecchia, Meritxell Genovart, Ana Sanz-Aguilar, Ana Payo-Payo, Daniel Oro

Supplementary Material

Discards from fisheries are the most important predictable anthropogenic food subsidies (PAFS) that are being incorporated into marine ecosystems. Changes on their availability and predictability can help us to understand the role that food availability (i.e. an important indicator of the carrying capacity) plays at different ecological levels, from individual fitness to community dynamic and ecosystem functioning. For several reasons, seabirds are an excellent model for evaluating the ecological effects arising from a lack of discards: 1) they are one of the most important discard scavengers, 2) they are easy to monitor and 3) they are apical predators are globally distributed, which makes them suitable health indicators of ecosystems. Here we review the existing information on seabird-discard interactions to identify the main knowledge gaps and propose new challenges for improving our understanding of the general role of food availability. We conclude that the new policies on the ban of fishery discards that are being progressively implemented in the European Union, Norway, Chile and New Zealand offer a suitable experimental scenario for improving our understanding of how a large decrease in the carrying capacity may alter demographic parameters such as survival, dispersal and reproduction, the resilience of populations against perturbations and the role of individual specialization in the foraging process.

Keywords: food availability; fishery discards; seabirds; ecological interactions; discard policies
Contents of this volume Sci. Mar. 82S1 : 115-120 Back PDF
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