Incorporating measures of habitat area into stock assessments: a case study with winter flounder and summer flounder


Principal Investigator: Jon Hare
Co-Principal Investigators: John Manderson

There is growing evidence that habitat area is a central factor in the dynamics of marine fishes. Along the east coast of the United States, large-scale variability in temperature is related to recruitment variability in a range of species from Atlantic croaker to winter flounder. This large-scale temperature variability may influence overall area of habitat for juvenile stages. We will evaluate whether juvenile habitat area as defined by temperature could be a bottleneck for recruitment. We are not proposing that thermal habitat area is the only factor affecting recruitment, rather temperature is a dominant factor. Our two focal species are winter flounder (Pseudopleuronectes americanus) and summer flounder (Paralichthys dentatus). We have chosen these species because there is evidence that thermal habitat is an important regulator and because these species are important to regional fisheries and the fisheries management councils. Our objectives are i) to test whether thermal habitat area is related to recruitment and ii) to incorporate thermal habitat area into stock assessment models.