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Habitat suitability models for groundfish in the Gulf of Alaska

January 1, 2017

Identifying and quantifying the major ecosystem processes that regulate recruitment strength of commercially and ecologically important fish species is a central goal of fisheries management research. In the Gulf of Alaska (GOA) five groundfish species are of particular interest: sablefish (Anoplopoma fimbria), Pacific cod (Gadus macrocephalus), walleye pollock (Gadus chalcogrammus), arrowtooth flounder (Atheresthes stomias), and Pacific ocean perch (Sebastes alutus). Habitat suitability models (HSM) were developed for the demersal early juvenile stage to inform survival to recruitment for these species, using catch data and seafloor habitat metrics with presence-only models. Regional-scale maps were produced that predict the probability of suitable habitat available in the GOA from settlement through residency in nursery areas. For example, the HSM for sablefish (150–399 mm) described suitable habitat as bathymetrically low-lying areas with low rocky structure within 25–300 m depth. In contrast, the HSM for Pacific ocean perch (50–200 mm) described suitable habitat as bathymetry rises with rocky structure present on north-south facing slopes within 85–270 m depth. These habitat covariates are useful to refine population estimates for North Pacific groundfish species and to inform life stage-specific definitions of Essential Fish Habitat. This application of MaxEnt models should be applicable for species with low occurrence of spatial data in other marine ecosystems globally.

Publication Year 2017
Title Habitat suitability models for groundfish in the Gulf of Alaska
DOI 10.1016/j.dsr2.2017.12.005
Authors Jodi L. Pirtle, S. Kalei Shotwell, Mark Zimmermann, Jane A. Reid, Nadine E. Golden
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography
Index ID 70201322
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center