A trophic level based software for assessing the impacts of fishing on aquatic ecosystems
  • Timeframe : 2007 -
  • Local Budget: 0 €
  • Coordinator: ESE research unit, Didier Gascuel
  • Contact: Didier GASCUEL
  • Website
  • Keywords : Ecotroph, Marine ecology, Ecosystem modeling, Trophodynamic model, Fishing impact, R package, Ecosystem approach to fisheries


Context and Issues

•ECOTROPH is an approach and software for modelling marine and freshwater ecosystems, entirely articulated around the trophic-level concept. This model has been developed since 2005 by D. Gascuel and enhanced continuously through Master and Ph.D. theses.



  • ECOTROPH can be used as a stand-alone model or as a plug-in of the ECOPATH with ECOSIM (EwE) software
  • It provides a simplified representation of ecosystem trophic structure using trophic spectra (i.e. the distribution of ecosystem biomass, production, catch, fishing mortality, etc. among trophic levels)
  • The model can be used to simulate changes in fishing pressure, providing estimates of trophic spectra for the virgin state of the ecosystem studied, as well as tools to assess the current state of this ecosystem. In particular, the model can identify which trophic classes are currently under-, fully- or over-exploited. It quantifies the effect of fishing on biomass or catch mean trophic level
  • The latest version of ECOTROPH also analyses fisheries interactions at the ecosystem scale
  • Finally, ECOTROPH has a unique framework for comparing heterogeneous ecosystems and models




  • Testing and application of the ECOTROPH model to a large diversity of ecosystems (cf. references listed below)
  • Development of an R package (Colléter et al., 2013). Development of additional routines: multi-species, multi-fleet (Gasche and Gascuel, 2013), foraging arena theory
  • Development and testing of a dynamic version of ECOTROPH for past analyses and forecasting
  • Development of the EwE plug-in (Jérôme Guitton)


Results and Perspectives


  • ECOTROPH has been used both in theoretical contexts based on virtual ecosystems (Gascuel and Pauly, 2009; Gascuel et al., 2011) and in specific case studies to assess current fishing impacts at the ecosystem scale (Gascuel et al., 2011, in Guinea; Gasche et al., 2012, in the South African Benguela ecosystem; Lassalle et al., 2012, in the Bay of Biscay; Meissa and Gascuel,2013,in Mauritania; Tremblay-Boyer et al., 2011, for a worldwide analysis) or to analyse effects of marine protected areas on an entire food web (Colléter et al., 2012, in Senegal; Valls et al., 2012, in the Mediterranean Sea)
  • ECOTROPH R package available on the Comprehensive R Archive Network
  • ECOTROPH EwE plug-in available in the EwE software
  • Dynamic version of EcoTroph and foraging arena theory should be released in 2014


Publications issued from the project

DU PONTAVICE, H. (2020) .Impact de la peche et du changement climatique sur le fonctionnement trophique de l'ocean mondial : modelisation et scenarios

REHREN, J. GASCUEL, D. (2020) .Fishing Without a Trace? Assessing the Balanced Harvest Approach Using EcoTroph

MOULLEC, F. GASCUEL, D. BENTORCHA, A. GUENETTE, S. ROBERT, M. (2017) .Trophic models: What do we learn about Celtic Sea and Bay of Biscay ecosystems?

GASCUEL, D. (2016) .Box 9.2. EcoTroph: a tool to analyse fishing impact on aquatic food webs

STEENBEEK, J. BUSZOWSKI, J. CHRISTENSEN, V. AKOGLU, E. AYDIN, K. ELLIS, N. FELINTO, D. GUITTON, J. LUCEY, S. KEARNEY, K. MACKINSON, S. PAN, M. PLATTS, M. WALTERS, C. (2016) .Ecopath with Ecosim as a model-building toolbox: Source code capabilities, extensions, and variations

HALOUANI, G. GASCUEL, D. HATTABA, T. BEN RAIS LASRAMA, F. COLL, M. TSAGARAKIS, K. PIRODDI, C. SALAH ROMDHANE, M. LE LOC'H, F. (2015) .Fishing impacts in Mediterranean marine ecosystems: an EcoTroph modeling approach

BENTORCHA, A. GASCUEL, D. COLLETER, M. GATTI, P. GUENETTE, S. (2014) .EcoTroph to assess changes in marine ecosystems - Application to the Bay of Biscay and Celtic sea case study

HALOUANI, G. GASCUEL, D. HATTAB, T. BEN RAIS LASRAMA, F. COLL, M. TSAGARAKIS, K. PIRODDI, C. ROMDHANE, M. S. LE LOC'H, F. (2014) .? How Fishing impacts Mediterranean marine ecosystems? An EcoTroph modeling approach. Poster p.35-36

SHANNON, L. COLL, M. BUNDY, A. GASCUEL, D. HEYMANS, S. J. J. KLEISNER, K. M. LYNAM, C. P. PIRODDI, C. TAM, J. TRAVERS-TROLET, M. SHIN, Y.-J. (2014) .Trophic level-based indicators to track fishing impacts across marine ecosystems

PRATO, G. GASCUEL, D. VALLS, A. FRANCOUR, P. (2014) .Balancing complexity and feasibility in Mediterranean coastal food-web models: uncertainty and constraints

COLLETER, M. GUITTON, J. GASCUEL, D. (2013) .An Introduction to the EcoTroph R Package: Analyzing Aquatic Ecosystem Trophic Networks

GASCHE, L. GASCUEL, D. (2013) .EcoTroph: a simple model to assess fishery interactions and their impacts on ecosystems

GUITTON, J. COLLETER, M. GASCUEL, D. GATTI, P. (2012) .EcoTroph modelling support

GASCUEL, D. ALBOUY, C. COLLETER, M. FRANCOUR, P. LE LOC'H, F. TITO DE MORAIS, L. VALLS, A. (2012) .Assessing the effects of MPAs on entire food webs using Ecopath and EcoTroph models

GASCHE, L. GASCUEL, D. (2012) .EcoTroph: a trophic-level based ecosystem model to assess fishing impacts and fisheries interactions

LASSALLE, G. GASCUEL, D. LE LOC'H, F. LOBRY, J. PIERCE, G. J. RIDOUX, V. SANTOS, M. B. SPITZ, J. NIQUIL, N. (2012) .An ecosystem approach for the assessment of fisheries impacts on marine top predators: the Bay of Biscay case study

COLLETER, M. GASCUEL, D. ECOUTIN, J.-M. TITO DE MORAIS, L. (2012) .Modelling trophic flows in ecosystems to assess the efficiency of marine protected area (MPA): a case study on the coast of Senegal

GASCHE, L. GASCUEL, D. SHANNON, L. SHIN, Y.-J. (2012) .Global assessment of the fishing impacts on the Southern Benguela ecosystem using an EcoTroph modelling approach

GASCUEL, D. COLLETER, M. ALBOUY, C. FRANCOUR, P. LE LOC'H, F. TITO DE MORAIS, L. VALLS, A. (2011) .Ecopath et EcoTroph : des outils d?evaluation des effets des AMP a l'echelle des reseaux trophiques

GASCUEL, D. GUITTON, J. (2011) .EcoTroph (E.T.): new case studies and developments

LASSALLE, G. GASCUEL, D. LE LOC'H, F. LOBRY, J. PELTIER, H. PIERCE, G. J. RIDOUX, V. SANTOS, A. SPITZ, J. NIQUIL, N. (2011) .Assessing the effect of fisheries on marine top-predators: the Bay of Biscay case study

GASCUEL, D. GUENETTE, S. PAULY, D. (2011) .The trophic-level-based ecosystem modelling approach; theoretical overview and practical uses

COLLETER, M. (2010) .Analyse de l'impact d'une AMP sur le fonctionnement trophique d?un ecosysteme : modelisation Ecopath/EcoTroph de la reserve du Bolon de Bamboung

GASCHE, L. GASCUEL, D. SHANNON, L. SHIN, Y.-J. (2010) .Using EcoTroph (ET) to build diagnoses of the fishing impact on marine ecosystems: application to the Southern Benguela

VALLS, A. (2009) .Analyse de l'impact d'une AMP sur le fonctionnement trophique d'un ecosysteme : modelisation Ecopath/EcoTroph de la reserve de Port Cros

GASCUEL, D. TREMBLAY-BOYER, L. PAULY, D. (2009) .EcoTroph (ET): a trophic-level based software for assessing the impacts of fishing on aquatic ecosystems

GASCUEL, D. PAULY, D. (2009) .EcoTroph: Modelling marine ecosystem functioning and impact of fishing

GASCUEL, D. GUENETTE, S. PAULY, D. (2008) .The trophic-level based ecosystem modelling approach: Theoretical overview and practical uses

GASCUEL, D. CHASSOT, E. (2008) .Exploring Catch Trophic Spectra Analysis: a method to estimate exploitation rates and biomass at the ecosystem level

GASCUEL, D. MORISSETTE, L. PALOMARES, M.L.D. CHRISTENSEN, V. (2008) .Trophic flow kinetics in marine ecosystems: Toward a theoretical approach to ecosystem functioning

GASCUEL, D. BOZEC, Y.-M. CHASSOT, E. COLOMB, A. LAURANS, M. (2005) .The trophic spectrum: theory and application as an ecosystem indicator

GASCUEL, D. (2005) .The trophic-level based model: A theoretical approach of fishing effects on marine ecosystems

GASCUEL, D. (2002) .Un modele ecosystemique structure par niveau trophique: approche theorique de l?impact de la peche sur la biomasse, la production halieutique et la dynamique des ecosystemes marins exploites

People involved

GASCUEL Didier, Scientist
Phone : +33 2 23 48 55 34
Email :


UBC Fisheries Centre (University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada)
  • (UBC Fisheries Centre)
  • Funding and Support

    Agrocampus Ouest funding
    Ministère de la recherche et de la technologie (Mathieu Colléter; PhD thesis grant)