Speaker : Chris J. Brown

The Bren School of Environmental Science & Management
at the University of California, Santa Barbara


Chris J. Brown,
PhD Candidate

The Ecology Center,

University of Queensland and

CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research

Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2009
2:30 - 3:30 p.m.
Bren Hall 1424

"Impacts of Climate Change on Marine Food Webs:

using ecosystem models to investigate ecological feedbacks"

Hosted by Bruce Kendall



Climate change is the most widespread anthropogenic threat that ocean ecosystems face. Predicting the effect of climate-driven changes on fisheries and the conservation of threatened species is challenging because we lack understanding of feedbacks in ocean systems and the responses of socio-economic systems. These feedbacks are critica, because hysteresis between climate change and other anthropogenic impacts, such as fishing, can result in much larger ecosystem changes than would be expected if the impacts were studied in isolation. I will discuss how models of whole ecosystems, oceanography, and socio-economic systems can be linked to assist understanding of feedbacks within and between these systems. I will provide an example from my own work. I simulated the effects of climate-driven primary production change on diverse marine ecosystems in Australia’s oceans, using linked climate, primary production, and marine food web models.

Primary producers are showing rapid responses to climate change, and I show that these can have considerable bottom-up effects on higher trophic levels. However, predation and competition interactions can reverse the expected responses of higher trophic levels to primary production change. Feedbacks within food webs will pose a challenge to management of marine ecosystems, which traditionally has been undertaken on a single-species basis. I will conclude with a discussion of future directions for incorporating these feedbacks into marine ecosystem management. If time permits, I will also present a slideshow of pictures from Australia and discuss the ecology of the region.


Chris Brown is a graduate student at the University of Queensland (Possingham and Richardson labs) and CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research (Fulton lab) in Australia. His research focuses on predicting the effects of climate change on marine ecosystems and using this information to inform management of marine ecosystems.



To join the "bren-alerts" mailing list and receive regular announcements about Bren School news and events, or to manage your bren-alerts account, go to http://www.bren.ucsb.edu/services/computing/bren-alerts.htm

To see a complete list of currently scheduled Bren events, visit http://www.bren.ucsb.edu/news/all_events.htm

To have an event considered for distribution via bren-alerts, send e-mail to media@bren.ucsb.edu

For more information or for assistance in accommodating a disability, please contact BJ Danetra

To find out how to support the Bren School, please contact Jennifer Purcell Deacon