We performed a literature review to examine to what degree the zooplankton dynamics in different regional marine ecosystems across the Atlantic Ocean is driven by predation mortality and how the latter is addressed in available modelling approaches. In general, we found that predation on zooplankton plays an important role in all the six considered ecosystems, but the impacts are differently strong and occur at different spatial and temporal scales.
In ecosystems with extreme environmental conditions (e.g. low temperature, ice cover, large seasonal amplitudes) and low species diversity, the overall impact of top-down processes on zooplankton dynamics is stronger than for ecosystems having moderate environmental conditions and high species diversity. In those ecosystems, predation mortality was found to structure the zooplankton mainly on local spatial and seasonal time scales.
Modelling methods used to parameterize zooplankton mortality range from simplified approaches with fixed mortality rates to complex coupled multispecies models. The applicability of a specific method depends on both the observed state of the ecosystem and the spatial and temporal scales considered. Modelling constraints such as parameter uncertainties and computational costs need to be balanced with the ecosystem-specific demand for a consistent, spatial-temporal dynamic implementation of predation mortality on the zooplankton compartment.
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