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End-to-end models were constructed to examine and compare the trophic structure and energy flow in coastal shelf ecosystems of four US Global Ocean Ecosystem Dynamics (GLOBEC) study regions: the Northern California Current, the Central Gulf of Alaska, Georges Bank, and the Southwestern Antarctic Peninsula. High-quality data collected on system components and processes over the life of the program were used as input to the models. Although the US GLOBEC program was species-centric, focused on the study of a selected set of target species of ecological or economic importance, we took a broader community-level approach to describe end-to-end energy flow, from nutrient input to fishery production. We built four end-to-end models that were structured similarly in terms of functional group composition and time scale. The models were used to identify the mid-trophic level groups that place the greatest demand on lower trophic level production while providing the greatest support to higher trophic level production. In general, euphausiids and planktivorous forage fishes were the critical energy-transfer nodes; however, some differences between ecosystems are apparent. For example, squid provide an important alternative energy pathway to forage fish, moderating the effects of changes to forage fish abundance in scenario analyses in the Central Gulf of Alaska. In the Northern California Current, large scyphozoan jellyfish are important consumers of plankton production, but can divert energy from the rest of the food web when abundant.

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Copyright 2013 by The Oceanography Society. All rights reserved.