|Mechanistic links between climate and fisheries along the east coast of the United States: explaining population outbursts of Atlantic croaker (Micropogonias undulatus)|Hare, J.A.; Able, K.W. (2007). Mechanistic links between climate and fisheries along the east coast of the United States: explaining population outbursts of Atlantic croaker (Micropogonias undulatus). Fish. Oceanogr. 16(1): 31-45. dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2419.2006.00407.x
In: Fisheries Oceanography. Blackwell Science: Oxford. ISSN 1054-6006, more
Micropogonias undulatus (Linnaeus, 1766) [WoRMS]; Marine
Atlantic croaker; climate change; ecological forecasting; North AtlantOscillation; overwinter mortality; recruitment; winter temperature
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Climate has been linked to variation in marine fish abundance and distribution, but often the mechanistic processes are unknown. Atlantic croaker (Micropogonias undulatus) is a common species in estuarine and coastal areas of the mid-Atlantic and southeast coasts of the U.S. Previous studies have identified a correlation between Atlantic croaker abundance and winter temperatures in Chesapeake Bay, and have determined thermal tolerances of juveniles. Here we re-examine the hypothesis that winter temperature variability controls Atlantic croaker population dynamics. Abundance indices were analyzed at four life history stages from three regions along the east coast of the U.S. Correlations suggest that year-class strength is decoupled from larval supply and is determined by temperature-linked, overwinter survival of juveniles. Using a relation between air and water temperatures, estuarine water temperature was estimated from 1930 to 2002. Periods of high adult catch corresponded with warm winter water temperatures. Prior studies indicate that winter temperature along the east coast is related to the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO); variability in catch is also correlated with the NAO, thereby demonstrating a link between Atlantic croaker dynamics, thermal limited overwinter survival, and the larger climate system of the North Atlantic. We hypothesize that the environment drives the large-scale variability in Atlantic croaker abundance and distribution, but fishing and habitat loss decrease the resiliency of the population to periods of poor environmental conditions and subsequent weak year classes.