Alms, Viola and Wolff, Matthias (2020) Identification of Drivers of Change of the Gulf of Nicoya Ecosystem (Costa Rica). Frontiers in Marine Science, 7 . DOI https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2020.00707.

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Abstract

The Gulf of Nicoya is a large tropical estuary located on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica and accounts for the country’s main fish production. It is increasingly impacted not only by its fisheries, but also by urbanization, tourism developments, the input of pollutants from urban centers and agriculture activities in the catchment areas of large rivers entering the gulf. Similar to other coastal ecosystems, the gulf is particularly sensitive to short- and long-term changes in the climate, such as the precipitation rate, Sea Surface Temperature, wind speed and current regimes. While the gulf has been studied for decades, until now no attempt has been made to combine the analysis of the impacts of fishing and environmental changes on the ecosystem. By following a holistic approach that uses fisheries and environmental time series data from collaborative research and simulation models, this study aims at identifying the main drivers of the observed changes in the Gulf of Nicoya ecosystem. While the model simulations indicate that variations in the catch of some target species (e.g., cephalopods and shrimps) are mainly driven by the fisheries’ exploitation rates, several other species (e.g., corvina, snook, small pelagics, and crabs) are also substantially affected by climate variations, particularly during El Niño periods of high Sea Surface Temperature extremes and increased precipitation. During these periods, phytoplankton productivity and zooplankton biomass deceases with bottom–up effects on the entire food chain. Indicators of the environmental state of the system thus have to be considered along with regulations of the fishing pressure to form the basis for the development of appropriate management strategies.

Document Type: Article
Programme Area (enter as: PA1/PA2/PA3/PA4/PA5): PA1
Research affiliation: Theoretical Ecology and Modelling > Resource Management
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: Yes
DOI etc.: https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2020.00707
ISSN: 2296-7745
Related URLs:
Date Deposited: 04 Aug 2021 09:56
Last Modified: 04 Aug 2021 09:56
URI: http://cris.leibniz-zmt.de/id/eprint/4657

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