Shelton, A.O., Sullaway, G.H., Ward, E.J., Feist, B.E., Somers, K.A., Tuttle, V.J., Watson, J.T., and Satterthwaite, W.H.

Publication Date

19 December 2020

Publication Name

Fish and Fisheries

Saturday December 19, 2020

Species that migrate long distances or between distinct habitats— for example, anadromous or catadromous fish—experience the consequences of climate change in each habitat and are therefore particularly at risk in a changing world. Studies of anadromous species often focus on freshwater despite the ocean’s disproportionate influence on survival and growth. To understand a prominent anadromous species’ response to ocean climate, we use a new spatio-temporal model jointly estimating the ocean distribution of all major fall-run Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha, Salmonidae) stocks from California to British Columbia over 40 years. We model hundreds of millions of tagged individuals, finding that different stocks have fundamentally different ocean distributions, distinct associations with sea surface temperature (SST), and contrasting distributional responses to historical ocean SST variation. We show species-level estimates of ocean distribution that ignore among-stock variation will lead to errant predictions of spatial distribution. Using future (2030–2090) SST projections to model focal stocks of fisheries importance we predict substantial ocean redistribution in response to SST change. Predicted aggregate distributional changes do not follow a simple, poleward shift. Instead, we predict net movement into some ocean regions (British Columbia, central California) but net movement out of others (northern California, Washington). Distribution shifts have implications for both major fisheries and marine mammal predators of Chinook salmon. We focus on the consequences of spatial changes in ocean distribution, but our approach provides a general structure to link marine and freshwater components of anadromous species under climate change.

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