Since biomass transfer efficiencies are only about 10%, it follows that the rate of biological production is much greater at lower trophic levels than it is at higher levels. Fisheries catches, at least to begin with, will tend to increase as the trophic level declines. At this point the fisheries will target species lower in the food web. In 2000, this led Pauly and others to construct a "Fisheries in Balance" index, usually called the FiB index. The FiB index is defined, for any year y, by
where is the catch at year y, is the mean trophic level of the catch at year y, is the catch, the mean trophic level of the catch at the start of the series being analyzed, and is the transfer efficiency of biomass or energy between trophic levels.
The FiB index is stable (zero) over periods of time when changes in trophic levels are matched by appropriate changes in the catch in the opposite direction. The index increases if catches increase for any reason, e.g. higher fish biomass, or geographic expansion. Such decreases explain the “backward-bending” plots of trophic level versus catch originally observed by Pauly and others in 1998.
Read more about this topic: Trophic Level
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