Abstract (from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ecy.1853/full):
Predicting species responses to perturbations is a fundamental challenge in ecology. Decision makers must often identify management perturbations that are the most likely to deliver a desirable management outcome despite incomplete information on the pattern and strength of food web links. Motivated by a current fishery decline in inland lakes of the Midwestern United States, we evaluate consistency of the responses of a target species (walleye (Sander vitreus)) to press perturbations. We represented food web uncertainty with 196 plausible topological models and applied four perturbations to each one. Frequently the direction of the focal predator response to the same perturbation is not consistent across food web topologies. Simultaneous application of management perturbations led to less consistent outcomes compared to the best single perturbation. However, direct manipulation of the adult focal predator produced a desirable outcome in 78% of 196 plausible topologies. Identifying perturbations that produce consistent outcomes in the face of food web uncertainty can have important implications for natural resource conservation and management efforts. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.