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Global-scale predictions of community and ecosystem properties from simple ecological theory

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-18, 10:05 authored by Jennings, S, Melin, F, Julia BlanchardJulia Blanchard, Forster, RM, Dulvy, NK, Wilson, RW
We show how theoretical developments in macroecology, life-history theory and food-web ecology can be combined to formulate a simple model for predicting the potential biomass, production, size and trophic structure of consumer communities. The strength of our approach is that it uses remote sensing data to predict properties of consumer communities in environments that are challenging and expensive to sample directly. An application of the model to the marine environment on a global scale, using primary production and temperature estimates from satellite remote sensing as inputs, suggests that the global biomass of marine animals more than 10(-5) g wet weight is 2.62 x 10(9)t (=8.16 gm(-2) ocean) and production is 1.00 x 10(10) t yr-1 (31.15 gm(-2)yr(-1)). Based on the life-history theory, we propose and apply an approximation for distinguishing the relative contributions of different animal groups. Fish biomass and production, for example, are estimated as 8.99 x 10(8)t (2.80 gm(-2)) and 7.91 x 108 t yr(-1) (2.46 gm(2)yr(-1)respectively, and 50% of fish biomass is shown to occur in 17% of the total ocean area (8.22 gm(-2)). The analyses show that emerging ecological theory can be synthesized to set baselines for assessing human and climate impacts on global scales.


Publication title

Royal Society of London. Proceedings. Biological Sciences










Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies


Royal Soc London

Place of publication

6 Carlton House Terrace, London, England, Sw1Y 5Ag

Rights statement

Copyright 2008 The Royal Society

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Assessment and management of Antarctic and Southern Ocean ecosystems

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