The consistency of a species' response to press perturbations with high food web uncertainty

TitleThe consistency of a species' response to press perturbations with high food web uncertainty
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsTunney, T. D., Carpenter S. R., and Zanden M. J. V.
Number of Pages1859-1868
Date PublishedJul
Type of ArticleArticle
Reprint Number0012-9658
LTER Accession NumberWOS:000404875100013
Keywordsconservation; ecosystems; indeterminacy; resource management; species, dynamics; model uncertainty, ecosystem-based management; largemouth bass; model-ecosystems; diet, Environmental Sciences & Ecology, overlap; sea otters; predation; walleye; indeterminacy; communities;, predictions

Predicting species responses to perturbations is a fundamental challenge in ecology. Decision makers must often identify management perturbations that are the most likely to deliver a desirable management outcome despite incomplete information on the pattern and strength of food web links. Motivated by a current fishery decline in inland lakes of the Midwestern United States, we evaluate consistency of the responses of a target species (walleye [Sander vitreus]) to press perturbations. We represented food web uncertainty with 193 plausible topological models and applied four perturbations to each one. Frequently the direction of the focal predator response to the same perturbation is not consistent across food web topologies. Simultaneous application of management perturbations led to less consistent outcomes compared to the best single perturbation. However, direct manipulation of the adult focal predator produced a desirable outcome in 77% of 193 plausible topologies. Identifying perturbations that produce consistent outcomes in the face of food web uncertainty can have important implications for natural resource conservation and management efforts.

Print Copy LocationEcology