Understanding climate impacts on recruitment and spatial dynamics of Atlantic cod in the Gulf of Maine: Integration of observations and modeling
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We put forward a combined observing and modeling strategy for evaluating effects of environmental forcing on the dynamics of spatially structured cod populations spawning in the western Gulf of Maine. Recent work indicates at least two genetically differentiated complexes in this region: a late spring spawning, coastal population centered in Ipswich Bay, and a population that spawns in winter inshore and on nearshore banks in the Gulf of Maine and off southern New England. The two populations likely differ in trophic interactions and in physiological and behavioral responses to different winter and spring environments. Coupled physical-biological modeling has advanced to the point where within-decade forecasting of environmental conditions for recruitment to each of the two populations is feasible. However, the modeling needs to be supported by hydrographic, primary production and zooplankton data collected by buoys, and by data from remote sensing and fixed station sampling. Forecasts of environmentally driven dispersal and growth of planktonic early life stages, combined with an understanding of possible population-specific predator fields, usage of coastal habitat by juveniles and adult resident and migratory patterns, can be used to develop scenarios for spatially explicit population responses to multiple forcings, including climate change, anthropogenic impacts on nearshore juvenile habitat, connectivity among populations and management interventions such as regional fisheries closures. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.