Seaweeds offer ideal habitats for many plants and animals in coastal ecosystems. In particular kelp beds are important spawning and feeding grounds, and provide refuges for many fish species and other aquatic organisms. After kelp plants die, they are decomposed by bacteria and microorganisms in the water.
This raises the level of nutrients in the ecosystem, leading to increased productivity of phytoplankton and zooplankton, which are key resources for juvenile fishes and mussels inhabiting the kelp-bed ecosystem. Using the modeling framework ‘Ecopath with Ecosim’, this project will integrate recent survey data and published information from the literature into a foodweb model describing the trophic structure and energy flows of the kelp-bed ecosystem at Gouqi Island in the East China Sea.
As Gouqi Island is one of the main mussel-cultivation areas in China, our research will focus on the potential interactions between mussel cultivation and kelp beds. We hope that this will provide new insights into the trophic ecology of this particular ecosystem and allow us to develop ideas pertinent to other instances of this unique kind of aquatic ecosystem. We aim to quantify the maximum carrying capacity for mussel production in the area around Gouqi Island.
This would not only be useful for increasing the economic benefits and other services such an ecosystem can provide, but may provide managers with sustainable options for mariculture exploitation while minimizing the environmental degradation caused by mussel production.
Last edited: 24 March 2016
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