CAFA Publications

Publications from CAFA funded projects. Sort by year, title, or project to view publications.

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Practical application of a bioenergetic model to inform management of a declining fur seal population and their commercially important prey

Project: The Alaska climate integrate modeling project phase 2: Building pathways to resilience, through evaluation of climate impacts, risk, and adaptation responses of marine ecosystems, fisheries, and coastal communities in the Bering Sea, Alaska
Year: 2020

Author(s): McHuron, E. A., K. Luxa, N. A. Pelland, K. Holsman, R. Ream, T. Zeppelin, and J. T. Sterling.


Project PI: Hollowed
DOI: http://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2020.597973

Food availability is a key concern for the conservation of marine top predators, particularly during a time when they face a rapidly changing environment and continued pressure from commercial fishing activities. Northern fur seals (Callorhinus ursinus) breeding on the Pribilof Islands in the eastern Bering Sea have experienced an unexplained population decline since the late-1990s. Dietary overlap with a large U.S. fishery for walleye pollock (Gadus chalcogrammus) in combination with changes in maternal foraging behavior and pup growth has led to the hypothesis that food limitation may be contributing to the population decline. We developed age- and sex-specific bioenergetic models to estimate fur seal energy intake from May–December in six target years, which were combined with diet data to quantify prey consumption. There was considerable sex- and age-specific variation in energy intake because of differences in body size, energetic costs, and behavior; net energy intake was lowest for juveniles (18.9 MJ sea-day–1, 1,409.4 MJ season–1) and highest for adult males (66.0 MJ sea-day–1, 7,651.7 MJ season–1). Population-level prey consumption ranged from 255,232 t (222,159 – 350,755 t, 95% CI) in 2006 to 500,039 t (453,720 – 555,205 t) in 1996, with pollock comprising between 41.4 and 76.5% of this biomass. Interannual variation in size-specific pollock consumption appeared largely driven by the availability of juvenile fish, with up to 81.6% of pollock biomass coming from mature pollock in years of poor age-1 recruitment. Relationships among metabolic rates, trip durations, pup growth rates, and energy intake of lactating females suggest the most feasible mechanism to increase pup growth rates is by increasing foraging efficiency through reductions in maternal foraging effort, which is unlikely to occur without increases in localized prey density. By quantifying year-specific fur seal consumption of pollock, our study provides a pathway to incorporate fur seals into multispecies pollock stock assessment models, which is critical for fur seal and fishery management given they were a significant source of mortality for both juvenile and mature pollock.

Predictability Of Species Distributions Deteriorates Under Novel Environmental Conditions In The California Current System

Project: From physics to fisheries: A social-ecological management strategy evaluation for the California Current Large Marine Ecosystem
Year: 2020

Author(s): Muhling, B. A., Brodie, S., Smith, J. A., Tommasi, D., Gaitan, C. F., Hazen, E. L., ... & Brodeur, R. D.


Project PI: Jacox
DOI: https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2020.00589

Spatial distributions of marine fauna are determined by complex interactions between environmental conditions and animal behaviors. As climate change leads to warmer, more acidic, and less oxygenated oceans, species are shifting away from their historical distribution ranges, and these trends are expected to continue into the future. Correlative Species Distribution Models (SDMs) can be used to project future habitat extent for marine species, with many different statistical methods available. However, it is vital to assess how different statistical methods behave under novel environmental conditions before using these models for management advice, and to consider whether future projections based on these techniques are biologically reasonable. In this study, we built SDMs for adults and larvae of two ecologically important pelagic fishes in the California Current System (CCS): Pacific sardine (Sardinops sagax) and northern anchovy (Engraulis mordax). We used five different SDM methods, ranging from simple [thermal niche model (TNM)] to complex (artificial neural networks). Our results show that some SDMs trained on data collected between 2003 and 2013 lost substantial predictive skill when applied to observations from more recent years, when ocean temperatures associated with a marine heatwave were outside the range of historical measurements. This decrease in skill was particularly apparent for adult sardine, which showed non-stationary relationships between catch locations and sea surface temperature (SST) through time. While sardine adults and larvae shifted their distributions markedly during the marine heatwave, anchovy largely maintained their historical spatiotemporal distributions. Our results suggest that correlative relationships between species and their environment can become unreliable during anomalous conditions. Understanding the underlying physiology of marine species is therefore essential for the construction of SDMs that are robust to rapidly changing environments. Developing distribution models that offer skillful predictions into the future for species such as sardine and anchovy, which are migratory and include separate sub-stocks, may be particularly challenging.

Preparing ocean governance for species on the move

Project: Climate velocity over the 21st century and its implications for fisheries management in the Northeast U.S.
Year: 2018

Author(s): Pinsky, M.L., Reygondeau, G., Caddell, R., Palacios-Abrantes, J., Spijkers, J. & Cheung, W.W.L.


Project PI: Pinsky
DOI: http://doi.org/10.1126/science.aat2360

The ocean is a critical source of nutrition for billions of people, with potential to yield further food, profits, and employment in the future (1). But fisheries face a serious new challenge as climate change drives the ocean to conditions not experienced historically. Local, national, regional, and international fisheries are substantially underprepared for geographic shifts in marine animals driven by climate change over the coming decades. Fish and other animals have already shifted into new territory at a rate averaging 70 km per decade (2), and these shifts are expected to continue or accelerate (3). We show here that many species will likely shift across national and other political boundaries in the coming decades, creating the potential for conflict over newly shared resources.

Projected shifts in 21st century sardine distribution and catch in the California Current

Project: A high-resolution physical-biological study of the Northeast U.S. shelf: past variability and future change
Year: 2021

Author(s): Fiechter, J., Buil, M.P., Jacox, M.G., Alexander, M.A. and Rose, K.A.


Project PI: Curchister
DOI: http://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2021.685241

Predicting changes in the abundance and distribution of small pelagic fish species in response to anthropogenic climate forcing is of paramount importance due to the ecological and socioeconomic importance of these species, especially in eastern boundary current upwelling regions. Coastal upwelling systems are notorious for the wide range of spatial (from local to basin) and temporal (from days to decades) scales influencing their physical and biogeochemical environments and, thus, forage fish habitat. Bridging those scales can be achieved by using high-resolution regional models that integrate global climate forcing downscaled from coarser resolution earth system models. Here, “end-to-end” projections for 21st century sardine population dynamics and catch in the California Current system (CCS) are generated by coupling three dynamically downscaled earth system model solutions to an individual-based fish model and an agent-based fishing fleet model. Simulated sardine population biomass during 2000–2100 exhibits primarily low-frequency (decadal) variability, and a progressive poleward shift driven by thermal habitat preference. The magnitude of poleward displacement varies noticeably under lower and higher warming conditions (500 and 800 km, respectively). Following the redistribution of the sardine population, catch is projected to increase by 50–70% in the northern CCS and decrease by 30–70% in the southern and central CCS. However, the late-century increase in sardine abundance (and hence, catch) in the northern CCS exhibits a large ensemble spread and is not statistically identical across the three downscaled projections. Overall, the results illustrate the benefit of using dynamical downscaling from multiple earth system models as input to high-resolution regional end-to-end (“physics to fish”) models for projecting population responses of higher trophic organisms to global climate change.

Projected Shifts In 21St Century Sardine Distribution And Catch In The California Current

Project: From physics to fisheries: A social-ecological management strategy evaluation for the California Current Large Marine Ecosystem
Year: 2021

Author(s): Fiechter, J, Pozo Buil, M, Jacox, M, Alexander, M, Rose, K,


Project PI: Jacox
DOI: https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2021.685241

Predicting changes in the abundance and distribution of small pelagic fish species in response to anthropogenic climate forcing is of paramount importance due to the ecological and socioeconomic importance of these species, especially in eastern boundary current upwelling regions. Coastal upwelling systems are notorious for the wide range of spatial (from local to basin) and temporal (from days to decades) scales influencing their physical and biogeochemical environments and, thus, forage fish habitat. Bridging those scales can be achieved by using high-resolution regional models that integrate global climate forcing downscaled from coarser resolution earth system models. Here, “end-to-end” projections for 21st century sardine population dynamics and catch in the California Current system (CCS) are generated by coupling three dynamically downscaled earth system model solutions to an individual-based fish model and an agent-based fishing fleet model. Simulated sardine population biomass during 2000–2100 exhibits primarily low-frequency (decadal) variability, and a progressive poleward shift driven by thermal habitat preference. The magnitude of poleward displacement varies noticeably under lower and higher warming conditions (500 and 800 km, respectively). Following the redistribution of the sardine population, catch is projected to increase by 50–70% in the northern CCS and decrease by 30–70% in the southern and central CCS. However, the late-century increase in sardine abundance (and hence, catch) in the northern CCS exhibits a large ensemble spread and is not statistically identical across the three downscaled projections. Overall, the results illustrate the benefit of using dynamical downscaling from multiple earth system models as input to high-resolution regional end-to-end (“physics to fish”) models for projecting population responses of higher trophic organisms to global climate change.

Projecting shifts in thermal habitat for 686 species on the North American continental shelf

Project: Climate velocity over the 21st century and its implications for fisheries management in the Northeast U.S.
Year: 2018

Author(s): Morley, J. W., Selden, R. L., Latour, R. J., Frölicher, T. L., Seagraves, R. J., & Pinsky, M. L. (


Project PI: Pinsky
DOI: http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0196127

Recent shifts in the geographic distribution of marine species have been linked to shifts in preferred thermal habitats. These shifts in distribution have already posed challenges for living marine resource management, and there is a strong need for projections of how species might be impacted by future changes in ocean temperatures during the 21st century. We modeled thermal habitat for 686 marine species in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans using long-term ecological survey data from the North American continental shelves. These habitat models were coupled to output from sixteen general circulation models that were run under high (RCP 8.5) and low (RCP 2.6) future greenhouse gas emission scenarios over the 21st century to produce 32 possible future outcomes for each species. The models generally agreed on the magnitude and direction of future shifts for some species (448 or 429 under RCP 8.5 and RCP 2.6, respectively), but strongly disagreed for other species (116 or 120 respectively). This allowed us to identify species with more or less robust predictions. Future shifts in species distributions were generally poleward and followed the coastline, but also varied among regions and species. Species from the U.S. and Canadian west coast including the Gulf of Alaska had the highest projected magnitude shifts in distribution, and many species shifted more than 1000 km under the high greenhouse gas emissions scenario. Following a strong mitigation scenario consistent with the Paris Agreement would likely produce substantially smaller shifts and less disruption to marine management efforts. Our projections offer an important tool for identifying species, fisheries, and management efforts that are particularly vulnerable to climate change impacts.

Rebuilding In The Face Of Climate Change. Canadian Journal Of Fisheries And Aquatic Sciences

Project: Robust harvest strategies for responding to climate‐induced changes in fish productivity
Year: 2018

Author(s): Bell, R. J., Wood, A., Hare, J., Richardson, D., Manderson, J., & Miller, T.


Project PI: Collie
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1139/cjfas-2017-0085

Decadal-scale climate variability and change can cause trends in oceanographic conditions that impact demographic rates. Rebuilding scenarios, therefore, developed assuming constant demographic rates may not be realistic. Winter flounder (Pseudopleuronectes americanus) is an important commercial and recreational species that has declined in the southern portion of its range despite reduced exploitation. Laboratory and mesocosm studies suggest that stock productivity is reduced under warmer conditions and that rebuilding to historical levels may not be possible. Our goal was to examine the rebuilding potential of winter flounder in the face of regional warming. We integrated winter temperature into a population model to estimate environmentally driven stock–recruitment parameters and projected the stock into the future under different climate and fishing scenarios. The inclusion of winter temperature had minor impacts on the estimates of current abundance, but provided greater understanding of the drivers of recruitment. Projections that included the environment suggest that rebuilding the stock to historical levels is unlikely. The integration of both fishing and the environment has the potential to provide more realistic expectations of future stock status.

Role Of Geostrophic Currents In Future Changes Of Coastal Upwelling In The California Current System

Project: From physics to fisheries: A social-ecological management strategy evaluation for the California Current Large Marine Ecosystem
Year: 2021

Author(s): Ding, H., Alexander, MA, Jacox, MG


Project PI: Jacox
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1029/2020GL090768

Given the importance of coastal upwelling in the California Current System (CCS), there is a considerable interest in predicting its response to global warming. However, upwelling changes are often treated as synonymous with changes in upwelling-favorable winds, while the role of geostrophic transport is unaccounted for. Here, we examine the respective roles of Ekman and geostrophic transports using the Community Earth System Model Large Ensemble. In some parts of the CCS, the contribution of geostrophic transport to long-term changes in upwelling is equal or greater than the contribution from Ekman transport. The combination of the two transports nearly close the momentum budget, and thus reproduce the mean state, interannual variability, and long-term changes in upwelling. These results highlight the importance of accounting for ocean circulation when quantifying upwelling and its variability and change.

Scientific Considerations Informing Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation And Management Act Reauthorization.

Project: Climate velocity over the 21st century and its implications for fisheries management in the Northeast U.S.
Year: 2018

Author(s): Miller, T., C. M. Jones, C. Hanson, S. Heppell, O. Jensen, P. Livingston, K. Lorenzen, K. Mills, W. F. Patterson, P. J. Sullivan, and R. Wong.


Project PI: Mills
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/fsh.10179

Seasonal Variability Of The Gulf Stream Kinetic Energy

Project: A high-resolution physical-biological study of the Northeast U.S. shelf: past variability and future change
Year: 2016

Author(s): Kang, D., E.N. Curchitser and A. Rosati


Project PI: Curchister
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1175/JPO-D-15-0235.1

The seasonal variability of the mean kinetic energy (MKE) and eddy kinetic energy (EKE) of the Gulf Stream (GS) is examined using high-resolution regional ocean model simulations. A set of three numerical experiments with different surface wind and buoyancy forcing is analyzed to investigate the mechanisms governing the seasonal cycle of upper ocean energetics. In the GS along-coast region, MKE has a significant seasonal cycle that peaks in summer, while EKE has two comparable peaks in May and September near the surface; the May peak decays rapidly with depth. In the off-coast region, MKE has a weak seasonal cycle that peaks in summer, while EKE has a dominant peak in May and a secondary peak in September near the surface. The May peak also decays with depth leaving the September peak as the only seasonal signal below 100 m. An analysis of the three numerical experiments suggests that the seasonal variability in the local wind forcing significantly impacts the September peak of the along-coast EKE through a local-flow barotropic instability process. Alternatively, the seasonal buoyancy forcing primarily impacts the flow baroclinic instability and is consequently related to the May peak of the upper ocean EKE in both regions. The analysis results indicate that the seasonal cycle of the along-coast MKE is influenced by both local energy generation by wind and the advection of energy from upstream regions. Finally, the MKE cycle and the September peak of EKE in the off-coast region are mainly affected by advection of energy from remote regions, giving rise to correlations with the seasonal cycle of remote winds.



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Upcoming webinar: Great Lakes Water Levels and Stormwater Management

  • 4 August 2020

Event date: 8/13/2020 12:00 PM - 1:15 PM Export event

On Thursday, August 13 from 12-1:15pm ET, Antioch University New England, NOAA, and the CPO-managed U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit will host a webinar for an exploration of some of the opportunities and challenges for addressing flooding and stormwater management in communities surrounding the Great Lakes. 

Speakers will include: 

  • Brandon Krumwiede, NOAA OCM

Great Lakes Water Levels and Coastal Impacts

  • Adam Bechle, Wisconsin Sea Grant

Vulnerability to Heightened Lake Levels in Wisconsin

  • Joe Chapman, PE, CFM Vice President, AECOM

Modeling Extreme Precipitation in Urban Watersheds of the Great Lakes Region

Register for the webinar »

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