Scientia Marina, Vol 65, No S2 (2001)

Unnatural Oceans


https://doi.org/10.3989/scimar.2001.65s2273

Jeremy B.C. Jackson
Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, United States

Enric Sala
Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, United States

Abstract


Ecological understanding of the oceans is based on an unnatural mix of mostly small species whose trophic relations are distorted to an unknown degree by the overfishing of megafauna including sharks, sea turtles, sea cows, seals, and whales. Living habitats like seagrass beds, kelp forests, and coral reefs that once provided critical 3-dimensional habitats for refuge and reproduction of most of the biodiversity of the oceans are also greatly reduced by fishing and other factors. Successful restoration and conservation require a more realistic understanding of the ecology of pristine marine ecosystems that can only be obtained by a combination of retrospective analyses, modeling, and intensive studies of succession in very large marine reserves.

Keywords


overfishing; food webs; biological habitat; body size; historical ecology

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