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Modelling food web structure using an end-to-end approach in the coastal ecosystem of the Gulf of Gabes (Tunisia)

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Ghassen Halouani, Frida Ben Rais Lasram, Yunne-Jai Shin, Laure Velez, Philippe Verley, Tarek Hattab, Ricardo Oliveros-Ramos, Frédéric Diaz, Frédéric Ménard, Melika Baklouti, Arnaud Guyennon, , Mohamed Salah Romdhane, François Le Loc’h
Ecological Modelling - Volume 339, 10 November 2016, Pages 45–57 - http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2016.08.008

Abstract

Given the ecological importance and high socio-economic value of the fishery of the Gulf of Gabes, an end-to-end model was applied to its continental shelf ecosystem to characterize the structure of the food web in the 2000s. This approach consisted in forcing a high trophic level model (OSMOSE) with an existing biogeochemical model (Eco3M-MED) representing the seasonal dynamics of the low trophic levels. The two models were linked through trophic interactions to represent the ecosystem dynamics from primary producers to top predators. In this study, we developed the multispecies, individual-based model OSMOSE in the Gulf of Gabes (OSMOSE-GoG). This model aims to capture the main processes that influence species life cycle and simulate the functioning of the ecosystem according to opportunistic predation process based on size selection and spatio-temporal co-occurrence between a predator and its prey. The spatial distribution of the eleven modelled species was derived from a Multi-Scale Species Distribution Modelling approach. We calibrated OSMOSE-GoG model with available data of biomass and fishing yield, using an optimization method based on evolutionary algorithms which is suitable for complex and stochastic models. Finally, OSMOSE-GoG was validated against independent data sets at different hierarchical levels : the individual (diet composition), population (mean size of commercial catch) and community levels (mean trophic level) following the Pattern-Oriented Modelling approach. The model outputs were overall consistent with the diet compositions and mean trophic levels derived from the ECOPATH model of the Gulf of Gabes (ECOPATH-GoG) and the observations of mean size of catches. The OSMOSE-GoG can be considered as a baseline model to investigate ecosystem responses to environmental changes and fishing management measures in the Gulf of Gabes.

Keywords
Mediterranean Sea ; Gulf of Gabes ; End-to-end modelling ; Ecosystem model ; OSMOSE ; Food web

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