Contrasting patterns in the occurrence and biomass centers of gravity among fish and macroinvertebrates in a continental shelf ecosystem
Peer reviewed, Journal article
MetadataShow full item record
Original versionEcology and Evolution. 2021, 11 (5), 2050-2063. 10.1002/ece3.7150
The distribution of a group of fish and macroinvertebrates (n = 52) resident in the US Northeast Shelf large marine ecosystem were characterized with species distribution models (SDM), which in turn were used to estimate occurrence and biomass center of gravity (COG). The SDMs were fit using random forest machine learning and were informed with a range of physical and biological variables. The estimated probability of occurrence and biomass from the models provided the weightings to determine depth, distance to the coast, and along-shelf distance COG. The COGs of occupancy and biomass habitat tended to be separated by distances averaging 50 km, which approximates half of the minor axis of the subject ecosystem. During the study period (1978–2018), the biomass COG has tended to shift to further offshore positions whereas occupancy habitat has stayed at a regular spacing from the coastline. Both habitat types have shifted their along-shelf distances, indicating a general movement to higher latitude or to the Northeast for this ecosystem. However, biomass tended to occur at lower latitudes in the spring and higher latitude in the fall in a response to seasonal conditions. Distribution of habitat in relation to depth reveals a divergence in response with occupancy habitat shallowing over time and biomass habitat distributing in progressively deeper water. These results suggest that climate forced change in distribution will differentially affect occurrence and biomass of marine taxa, which will likely affect the organization of ecosystems and the manner in which human populations utilize marine resources.