Defining eco-regions and applying spatial analyses of species abundance, community dynamics and stock substructure to incorporate habitat in SSMs and MSMs

Principal Investigator: Anne Hollowed
Co-Principal Investigators: Kerim Aydin, Matthew Baker, Kirstin Holsman
External Collaborator: Trevor Branch (University of Washington)

Research under this project is conducted to improve our understanding of the role of habitat in the status and sustainability of fish and invertebrate populations. Further research is needed to characterize the ecological value of various habitats and integrate spatially discrete environmental effects and species interactions into stock assessments. Scientists at the Alaska Fisheries Science Center and University of Washington are developing and applying statistical tools to define boundaries of fish habitats in space and time, determine the strength of species interactions in varying regional habitats, and integrate knowledge of habitat associations as a means to measure multispecies interactions in multi-species assessments of Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea stocks.

Understanding how volume, area, and quality of habitat govern species interactions, and how these interactions govern spawning, feeding, or growth of managed species is a key element of Essential Fish Habitat. Researchers are integrating biological and physical habitat data to determine how community composition varies along environmental gradients and to define distinct ecoregions within large marine ecosystems. Researchers are also investigating the role of habitat in multi-species interactions to test whether spatial complexity in habitat and differential species responses to habitat structure increase resilience to external stressors, particularly fisheries impacts. Multispecies interactions complicate our understanding of fishery impacts on species abundance and related compensatory or depensatory effects. Uncertainty in species abundance estimates may be reduced by explicitly analyzing how habitat impacts species interactions. Our research integrates habitat considerations into existing MSM and single species models to improve estimation of fishing mortality targets, given multispecies interactions, vulnerability to predation, and stock substructure.

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InPort ID#




Alaska Fisheries Science Center (AFSC)


Annual Report - Year 1

Publications & Presentations

Baker and Hollowed (2014), Deep Sea Research II

ICES Presentation

Media & Other Products