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Mortality and predation in ecosystem models: is it important how these are expressed?


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Fulton, EA, Smith, ADM and Johnson, CR 2003 , 'Mortality and predation in ecosystem models: is it important how these are expressed?' , Ecological Modelling, vol. 169, no. 1 , pp. 157-178 , doi: 10.1016/S0304-3800(03)00268-0.

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The effects of the form of the grazing and mortality terms used in plankton models are well known. The same cannot be said for
ecosystem models. As ecosystem models become more popular more needs to be known about the effects of model formulation
on model behaviour and performance. The impact of the form of the grazing response function and mortality terms used in
a biogeochemical ecosystem model are considered here. We show that in the large and inter-linked webs used in ecosystem
models, model behaviour is far more sensitive to the form of the grazing term than to that of the mortality terms that close the
modelled food web.
When using biogeochemical ecosystem models in shallow marine ecosystems, the most dynamic and sophisticated functional
responses describing grazing require more parameters and validation than the simpler Holling disk equation, but usually still
lead to the same general conclusions about the system state and the effects of changes in forcing functions. Thus, the use of
more complex functional responses is not necessarily warranted in many cases. Similarly, the extra effort and data required to
explicitly represent the top predators (sharks, mammals and birds) is not necessary if they are not the focus of the study. A
quadratic mortality term applied to intermediate predators (such as piscivores) is sufficient to achieve plausible model behaviour.
It should be noted, however, that some degree of sophistication is required in the grazing and mortality terms. Use of simple
linear functional responses and mortality terms is unsuitable for models used to consider a range of nutrient loading or harvesting

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Fulton, EA and Smith, ADM and Johnson, CR
Keywords: Functional response; Mortality; Model closure; Biogeochemical; Ecosystem; Model
Journal or Publication Title: Ecological Modelling
ISSN: 0304-3800
DOI / ID Number: 10.1016/S0304-3800(03)00268-0
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