Marine Science Faculty Publications

Projections of Future Habitat Use by Atlantic Bluefin Tuna: Mechanistic Vs. Correlative Distribution Models

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Atlantic bluefin tuna, climate change, North Atlantic, species distribution models

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Climate change is likely to drive complex shifts in the distribution and ecology of marine species. Projections of future changes may vary, however, depending on the biological impact model used. In this study, we compared a correlative species distribution model and a simple mechanistic oxygen balance model for Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus: ABFT) in the North Atlantic Ocean. Both models gave similar results for the recent historical time period, and suggested that ABFT generally occupy favourable metabolic habitats. Projections from an earth system model showed largely temperature-induced reductions in ABFT habitat in the tropical and sub-Tropical Atlantic by 2100. However, the oxygen balance model showed more optimistic results in parts of the subpolar North Atlantic. This was partially due to an inherent ability to extrapolate beyond conditions currently encountered by pelagic longline fishing fleets. Projections included considerable uncertainty due to the simplicity of the biological models, and the coarse spatiotemporal resolution of the analyses. Despite these limitations, our results suggest that climate change is likely to increase metabolic stress on ABFT in sub-Tropical habitats, but may improve habitat suitability in subpolar habitats, with implications for spawning and migratory behaviours, and availability to fishing fleets.

Citation / Publisher Attribution

ICES Journal of Marine Science, v. 74, issue 3, p. 698-716