Trophic mass balanced models and dynamic simulations of benthic communities from La Rinconada Marine Reserve off northern Chile: network properties and multispecies harvest scenario assessments
- 1.Mass balanced trophic models and dynamic simulations of two benthic ecological systems from La Rinconada Marine Reserve (Antofagasta Bay, SE Pacific) were constructed.
- 2.The scallop Argopecten purpuratus is the most important benthic resource in La Rinconada Marine Reserve, followed by the carnivorous snail Thais chocolata, and the filter-feeder bivalves Tagelus dombeii and Transennella pannosa.
- 3.Information on biomass, P/B ratios, catches, food spectrum, consumption, and dynamics of commercial and non-commercial species was obtained and examined using Ecopath with an Ecosim software package.
- 4.The bivalves A. purpuratus and T. dombeii represented the most abundant compartments in the studied subsystems. Of the carnivores, the snail T. chocolata was dominant, followed by the crabs Cancer spp. and the functional group of large epifauna.
- 5.The two subsystems presented similar values of system throughput. The mean trophic level of their fisheries also reached similar magnitudes (2.0), showing that the harvests in each system concentrated on secondary producers. Likewise, both subsystems presented similar A/C ratios (29.9 and 30.3), suggesting that they were immature.
- 6.The results obtained using mixed trophic impact (MTI) and Ecosim (increasing the fishing mortality Fi by four times) showed that only four species propagated the highest direct and indirect effects. Coincidentally, these species are the most economically important and the changes produced by the scallop A. purpuratus are noteworthy.
- 7.With regard to the system recovery time (SRT) estimates, only three species or functional groups presented the highest magnitudes, from highest to lowest: the sea star Luidia magallanica, the scallop A. purpuratus, and the crabs Cancer spp.
- 8.The topological keystone indexes of Jordán and Libralato had divergent results. According to Jordán's index, the keystone species were L. magallanica, Cancer spp., and detritus; whereas Libralato's index showed phytoplankton to be the keystone species.
- 9.Based on the results obtained, it is concluded that trophic mass balanced models and simulated management scenarios have considerable value for planning interventions and manipulations or for planning more sustainable management strategies in La Rinconada Marine Reserve. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.