Spatial analysis of demersal fish communities to support ecosystem based management


Groundfish assemblages identified off the northeast coast of Newfoundland (1996-2011) and the northern Gulf of St. Lawrence (2004-2011) using annual research vessel data. Each point represents the location of a single haul with a bottom trawl. Analyses were performed on biomass data separately for each region and data from all years in the analyses are shown.

Ecosystem processes operate over a wide range of spatial and temporal scales. Assessing ecosystem status and identifying representative areas within ecoregions for conservation purposes requires the development of appropriate metrics and identification of relevant measurement scales. Demersal fish assemblages are major components of marine ecosystems. Patterns in fish distributions are scale dependent. Temporal changes in association between groundfish species at large spatial scales can indicate changes in processes such as predator prey dynamics while smaller scale changes may indicate changes in the extent of fish aggregations or assemblages. Stresses to ecosystems are expected to result in changing associations among species over a range of scales. This project aimed to investigate temporal changes in spatial associations among demersal fish on Grand Bank (1995 to present) and Northern Gulf of St. Lawrence (2004 to present) using annual survey data. This project represents a preliminary step towards developing multi-scale metrics of ecosystem status and trophic interactions and will inform the selection of representative sites within ecoregions that will serve in the development of a network of conservation areas.

Program Name

Strategic Program for Ecosystem-based Research and Advice (SPERA)


Atlantic: Newfoundland, Labrador Shelves

Principal Investigator(s)

Danny Ings

Pierre Pepin

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