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Cod: Overfishing or Climate Change

Though previous studies have chalked recent ecological shifts in the northwest Atlantic ocean to the overfishing of cod, climate change has played an important role too, according to this Perspective. Charles H. Greene and Andrew J. Pershing discuss how climate-related changes in ocean circulation and ice melting led to freshening of waters along the continental shelf. Since the collapse of the cod fisheries in these waters in the early 1990s, the abundances and seasonal cycles of phytoplankton, zooplankton and fish have shifted. The researchers that initially reported this change proposed that the cod's disappearance was chiefly responsible, but the Perspective authors suggest that, with or without the collapse of cod, climate-driven regime shift would have taken place in the northwest Atlantic during the 1990s.


Greene & Pershing 2007. Change in Air and Sea, Science 315, p.1084 Frack et al., 2005. Science 308, p.1621


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