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Dynamic occupancy modeling of temperate marine fish in area-based closures

September 21, 2018

Species distribution models (SDMs) are commonly used to model the spatial structure of species in the marine environment, however, most fail to account for detectability of the target species. This can result in underestimates of occupancy, where nondetection is conflated with absence. The site occupancy model (SOM) overcomes this failure by treating occupancy as a latent variable of the model and incorporates a detection submodel to account for variability in detection rates. These have rarely been applied in the context of marine fish and never for the multiseason dynamic occupancy model (DOM). In this study, a DOM is developed for a designated species of concern, cusk (Brosme brosme), over a four-season period. Making novel use of a high-resolution 3-dimensional hydrodynamic model, detectability of cusk is considered as a function of current speed and algae cover. Algal cover on the seabed is measured from video surveys to divide the study area into two distinct regions: those with canopy forming species of algae and those without (henceforth bottom types). Modeled estimates of the proportion of sites occupied in each season are 0.88, 0.45, 0.74, and 0.83. These are significantly greater than the proportion of occupied sites measured from underwater video observations which are 0.57, 0.28, 0.43, and 0.57. Individual fish are detected more frequently with increasing current speed in areas lacking canopy and less frequently with increasing current speed in areas with canopy. The results indicate that, where possible, SDM studies for all marine species should take account of detectability to avoid underestimating the proportion of sites occupied at a given study area. Sampling closed areas or areas of conservation often requires the use of nonphysical, low impact sampling methods like camera surveys. These methods inherently result in detection probabilities less than one, an issue compounded by time-varying features of the environment that are rarely accounted for marine studies. This work highlights the use of modeled hydrodynamics as a tool to correct some of this imbalance.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2018
Title Dynamic occupancy modeling of temperate marine fish in area-based closures
DOI 10.1002/ece3.4493
Authors Jay Calvert, Chris McGonigle, Suresh Sethi, Bradley Harris, Rory Quinn, Jon Grabowski
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Ecology and Evolution
Series Number
Index ID 70229790
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Coop Res Unit Leetown