Using Predator-Prey Relationships to Predict Shifts in Marine Species Distribution

Using Predator-Prey Relationships to Predict Shifts in Marine Species Distribution

Climate change is already driving marine organisms to relocate into cooler waters, which could have major implications for fisheries managers and other ocean resource managers. To help prepare for population shifts, several studies have projected the future abundance and distribution of various species. But they have primarily done so based on temperature.

This project aims to improve on these forecasts by accounting for a critical missing factor: predator-prey relationships. The research team will develop a new modeling method that predicts what prey species predators are likely to pursue and consume based on traits such as body size and the prey’s strategy for avoiding predators. These predictions will then inform projections of where predators will shift due to climate change.

The researchers will test their method by applying it to albacore tuna, a species whose distribution off the West Coast of North America is already shifting. The project may prove useful in the ongoing re-negotiation of the U.S.-Canada Albacore Treaty, which governs how the two nations share the catch of this commercially important species.

Recent Work