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MEPS prepress abstract   -  DOI:

Trophoscapes of predatory fish reveal biogeographic structuring of spatial dietary overlap and inform fisheries bycatch patterns

Brian K. Wells*, Jarrod A. Santora, Joseph J. Bizzarro, Alicia Billings, Richard D. Brodeur, Elizabeth A. Daly, John C. Field, Kate E. Richerson, James T. Thorson

*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: :Trophic interactions are proximate drivers of ecosystem function, including predator–prey dynamics, and their spatio-temporal variability may reflect ecosystem shifts and changes in trophic transfer. We investigated biogeographic structuring of trophic interactions by analyzing multi-decadal time series of diet for Pacific hake Merluccius productus and Chinook salmon Oncorhynchus tshawytscha from a large marine ecosystem. We compared our predictions for spatio-temporal variability of hake and salmon trophoscapes (i.e. spatially-explicit predictions of trophic relationships) to inform ecosystem dynamics and fishery bycatch patterns. We have three inter-related findings pertaining to the spatial coherence of the trophoscapes and the potential consequences to juvenile and sub-adult (i.e. after the first year at sea but prior maturation) salmon when sharing foraging areas with Pacific hake. First, the spatial scale of Pacific hake diet variability represents coastwide variability and spatial variability of Chinook salmon diets varies across regions and demonstrates a broad diet. Second, the expectation for increased diet and spatial overlap of Pacific hake and Chinook salmon during low productivity periods (e.g. periods with low krill biomass, suboptimal upwelling) can inform fishery management challenges. In this regard, we explore the role of shared foraging habitats on increased predation, and consequentially reduced recruitment, by Pacific hake on juvenile salmon during sub-optimal upwelling conditions. Third, we show above-average bycatch of sub-adult Chinook salmon was associated with later spring transition, potentially as a result of both Pacific hake and salmon sharing foraging areas and prey species on the shelf and shelf-break.