Scientia Marina, Vol 82, No S1 (2018)

Discard-ban policies can help improve our understanding of the ecological role of food availability to seabirds


https://doi.org/10.3989/scimar.04746.10A

Enric Real
Grupo de Ecología y Demografía Animal, IMEDEA, CSIC-UIB, Spain
orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0002-6190-6303

Giacomo Tavecchia
Grupo de Ecología y Demografía Animal, IMEDEA, CSIC-UIB, Spain
orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0001-5435-2691

Meritxell Genovart
IMEDEA, CSIC-UIB - Centre d’Estudis Avançats de Blanes, CSIC, Spain
orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0003-2919-1288

Ana Sanz-Aguilar
Grupo de Ecología y Demografía Animal, IMEDEA, CSIC-UIB, Spain
orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0002-4177-9749

Ana Payo-Payo
Grupo de Ecología y Demografía Animal, IMEDEA, CSIC-UIB, Spain
orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0001-5482-242X

Daniel Oro
IMEDEA, CSIC-UIB - Centre d’Estudis Avançats de Blanes, CSIC, Spain
orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0003-4782-3007

Abstract


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

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