As it becomes ever clearer that on longer time scales marine ecosystems function as non-linear "complex adaptive systems", potential consequences of global change become obscured within a maze of multiple possibilities. This essay attempts to route one pathway to a potentially more robust conceptual synthesis, employing the globally important example of anchovies and sardines as a model. Expressly, the anchovy emerges as an efficient specialist of neritic origin. In contrast, the sardine's oceanic-based adaptations equip it to deal with intermittent episodes of poorly productive conditions and to take advantage of associated reduction in predation pressure on early life stages of their offspring. Based on the overall synthesis, the nimble, wide-ranging, actively opportunistic sardine appears notably well equipped to deal with climate-related disruptions and dislocations and even to profit from their adverse effects on predators and competitors. Global-scale multispecies population synchronies in the 1970s to the mid-1980s suggest that a variety of different species types might be flagged for investigation as perhaps embodying similar "active opportunist" attributes. If so, events and anecdotes might, as global changes proceed, be viewed within a developing universal framework that could support increasingly effective transfers of experience and predictive foresight across different species groups and regional ecosystems.
- Climate change
- earth systems models
- global climate models
- representative concentration pathways
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Aquatic Science
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics