MEPS 415:23-33 (2010)  -  doi:10.3354/meps08743

Shifting species assemblages in the Northeast US Continental Shelf Large Marine Ecosystem

Sean M. Lucey*, Janet A. Nye

National Marine Fisheries Service, Northeast Fisheries Science Center, Woods Hole Laboratory, 166 Water Street, Woods Hole, Massachusetts 02543, USA

ABSTRACT: The Northeast US Continental Shelf Large Marine Ecosystem (NES LME) has experienced 2 major pressures: fishing and climate. The magnitude and rate of response to these pressures are species-specific and depend on each individual species’ behavior, physiology and life histories. Thus, species assemblages can be expected to change as a result of the sum of each individual species’ response. In previous studies, distinct species assemblages have been identified in each of the 4 subregions by which the NES LME has traditionally been assessed: Mid-Atlantic Bight (MAB), Southern New England (SNE), Georges Bank (GB), and Gulf of Maine (GOM). In this study, we confirm that each subregion has a distinct species assemblage, but found that those assemblages are shifting over time. The shift appears to be towards species that prefer warmer water. The result is a species assemblage within each subregion that more closely resembles the historic assemblage found in the adjacent subregion to the south. These shifts have occurred in response to a combination of both fishing and climate, and are highly nonlinear. Therefore, current reductions in fishing pressure may not be adequate to return the system to a more historic species assemblage.


KEY WORDS: Species distribution · Northeast US Continental Shelf Large Marine Ecosystem · Fishing pressure · Climate effect · Non-metric multidimensional scaling · ANOSIM · SIMPER


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Cite this article as: Lucey SM, Nye JA (2010) Shifting species assemblages in the Northeast US Continental Shelf Large Marine Ecosystem. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 415:23-33

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