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Open Access Community Secondary Production as a Measure of Ecosystem Function: A Case Study with Aquatic Ecosystem Fragmentation

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Secondary production is a composite measure of an animal population's density, biomass, and growth over time. Thus, secondary production converts animal abundance and biomass data into a functional measure of energy flow through an ecosystem. In the present study, we used community secondary production as a composite measure of ecosystem functional response to anthropogenic disturbance, and applied this approach to examine effects of fragmentation on tidal creek ecosystems in The Bahamas. Community fish production decreased from a mean of 901 g m–2 yr–1 in unfragmented creeks to 166 g m–2 yr–1 in downstream areas of fragmented creeks to 29 g m–2 yr–1 upstream of creek blockages in fragmented creeks. when compared with several univariate measures (species richness, evenness, abundance, biomass), community composition (by ordination), and community distribution (via rank-curve analysis), community secondary production appeared to be the most consistent variable for distinguishing between three creek fragmentation categories. These data suggest that small, non-significant declines in diversity or other structural metrics can yield disproportionately large declines in ecosystem function. we suggest community secondary production can be an important component of future assessments of anthropogenic impacts, especially when alterations in diversity or community structure are small, but potentially have dramatic impacts on ecosystem function.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2011-10-01

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  • The Bulletin of Marine Science is dedicated to the dissemination of high quality research from the world's oceans. All aspects of marine science are treated by the Bulletin of Marine Science, including papers in marine biology, biological oceanography, fisheries, marine affairs, applied marine physics, marine geology and geophysics, marine and atmospheric chemistry, and meteorology and physical oceanography.
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