Multispecies biomass dynamics models reveal effects of ocean temperature on predation of juvenile pollock in the eastern Bering Sea
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Multispecies biomass dynamics models reveal effects of ocean temperature on predation of juvenile pollock in the eastern Bering Sea

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  • Journal Title:
    Fisheries Oceanography
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    Walleye pollock (Gadus chalcogrammus) supports one of the largest commercial fisheries in the world. Juvenile pollock are important forage fish in the eastern Bering Sea (EBS) ecosystem, often representing the largest fraction in the diets of major Bering Sea piscivores. Large variability in the EBS pollock stock biomass in recent years has been attributed primarily to fluctuations in recruitment. It has been hypothesized that predation rates on forage fishes increase when the cold pool (a body of cold water < 2°C) is extensive and covers much of the middle continental shelf, which tends to concentrate larger predatory fishes in the outer shelf and slope regions. In contrast, young pollock appear to tolerate colder temperatures than older fish and can stay in the cold pool, thereby reducing predation. We used a multispecies modeling approach to examine the effects of the cold pool size on predation of juvenile pollock. We found that predation on age‐1 pollock by age‐3+ pollock decreased, and predation on age‐1 and age‐2 pollock by arrowtooth flounder increased with increasing bottom temperature, which was used as a proxy for the cold pool size. These results suggest that the cold pool creates spatial separation between juvenile pollock and arrowtooth flounder, but not between adult and juvenile pollock. The model developed in this study could be used to examine the effects of other covariates on interspecific interactions, help explain observed changes in fish communities, and understand implications of climate change on ecosystems and their productivity.
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    Fisheries Oceanography, 29(1), 10-22
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    Accepted Manuscript
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