Description of the East Brazil Large Marine Ecosystem using a trophic model


  • Kátia M.F. Freire Aquatic Ecosystems Research Laboratory (AERL)
  • Villy Christensen Aquatic Ecosystems Research Laboratory (AERL)
  • Daniel Pauly Aquatic Ecosystems Research Laboratory (AERL)



modelling, ecosystem, fishery, South-western Atlantic, Brazil, northeastern Brazil


The objective of this study was to describe the marine ecosystem off northeastern Brazil. A trophic model was constructed for the 1970s using Ecopath with Ecosim. The impact of most of the forty-one functional groups was modest, probably due to the highly reticulated diet matrix. However, seagrass and macroalgae exerted a strong positive impact on manatee and herbivorous reef fishes, respectively. A high negative impact of omnivorous reef fishes on spiny lobsters and of sharks on swordfish was observed. Spiny lobsters and swordfish had the largest biomass changes for the simulation period (1978-2000); tunas, other large pelagics and sharks showed intermediate rates of biomass decline; and a slight increase in biomass was observed for toothed cetaceans, large carnivorous reef fishes, and dolphinfish. Recycling was an important feature of this ecosystem with low phytoplankton-originated primary production. The mean transfer efficiency between trophic levels was 11.4%. The gross efficiency of the fisheries was very low (0.00002), probably due to the low exploitation rate of most of the resources in the 1970s. Basic local information was missing for many groups. When information gaps are filled, this model may serve more credibly for the exploration of fishing policies for this area within an ecosystem approach.


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Author Biography

Kátia M.F. Freire, Aquatic Ecosystems Research Laboratory (AERL)

Universidade Estadual de Santa Cruz, Departamento de Ciências Exatas e Tecnológicas, Rodovia Ilhéus- Itabuna, Bahia, Brazil


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How to Cite

M.F. Freire K, Christensen V, Pauly D. Description of the East Brazil Large Marine Ecosystem using a trophic model. Sci. mar. [Internet]. 2008Sep.30 [cited 2024Apr.16];72(3):477-91. Available from: