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MEPS prepress abstract   -  DOI:

Relationships between temperature and Pacific hake distribution vary across latitude and life-history stage

Michael J. Malick*, Mary E. Hunsicker, Melissa A. Haltuch, Sandra L. Parker-Stetter, Aaron M. Berger, Kristin N. Marshall

*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Environmental conditions can have spatially complex effects on the dynamics of marine fish stocks that change across life-history stages. Yet the potential for non-stationary environmental effects across multiple dimensions, e.g., space and ontogeny, are rarely considered. In this study, we examined the evidence for spatial and ontogenetic non-stationary temperature effects on Pacific hake (Merluccius productus) biomass along the west coast of North America. Specifically, we used Bayesian additive models to estimate the effects of temperature on Pacific hake biomass distribution and whether the effects change across space or life-history stage. We found latitudinal differences in the effects of temperature on mature Pacific hake distribution (i.e., age-3 and older); warmer than average subsurface temperatures were associated with higher biomass north of Vancouver Island, but lower biomass offshore of Washington and southern Vancouver Island. In contrast, immature Pacific hake distribution (i.e., age-2) was better explained by a nonlinear temperature effect; cooler than average temperatures were associated with higher biomass coastwide. Together our results suggest that Pacific hake distribution is driven by interactions between age composition and environmental conditions and highlight the importance of accounting for varying environmental effects across multiple dimensions.