Risk assessment for key socio-economic and ecological species in a sub-arctic marine ecosystem under combined ocean acidification and warming

The Arctic may be particularly vulnerable to the consequences of both ocean acidification (OA) and global warming, given the faster pace of warming and acidification. Here, we use the Atlantis ecosystem model to assess how the trophic network of marine fishes and invertebrates in the Icelandic waters is responding to the combined pressures of OA and warming. We develop an approach which allows us to focus on species of economic (catch-value), social (number of participants in fisheries), or ecological (keystone species) importance. We parameterize the model with literature-determined ranges of sensitivity to OA and warming for different species and functional groups in the Icelandic waters. We found divergent species responses to warming and acidification levels; (mainly) planktonic groups and forage fish benefited while (mainly) benthic groups and predatory fish decreased under warming and acidification scenarios. Assuming conservative harvest rates for the largest catch-value species, Atlantic cod, we see that the population is projected to remain stable under even the harshest acidification and warming scenario. Further, for the scenarios where the model projects reductions in biomass of Atlantic cod, other species in the ecosystem increase, likely due to a reduction in competition and predation. These results highlight the interdependencies of multiple global change drivers and their cascading effects on trophic organization, and the supply of an important species from a socio-economic perspective in the Icelandic fisheries.

Oostdijk M., 2021. Risk assessment for key socio-economic and ecological species in a sub-arctic marine ecosystem under combined ocean acidification and warming. PhD thesis, Stockholm University. Thesis (restricted access).

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