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.
|Translated title of the contribution||Discard-ban policies can help improve our understanding of the ecological role of food availability to seabirds|
|Pages (from-to)||115-120, S1-S3|
|Number of pages||9|
|Early online date||25 Jul 2018|
|Publication status||Published - Dec 2018|
Funds for this study were supplied by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and by the European Social Fund (grant ref.: CGL2013-42203-R). The study also received funding from the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under Grant Agreement no. 634495 for the project Science, Technology, and Society Initiative to Minimize Unwanted Catches in European Fisheries (MINOUW). MG and ASA are supported by postdoctoral contracts
co-funded by the Regional Government of the Balearic Islands and the European Social Fund. Two reviewers helped to improve the manuscript.
- Discard policies
- Ecological interactions
- Fishery discards
- Food availability