NSERC’s Awards Database
Award Details

Modelling groundfish spatial dynamics in the Northwest Atlantic

Research Details
Application Id: 5013957
Competition Year: 2019 Fiscal Year: 2019-2020
Project Lead Name: LeBris, Arnault Institution: Memorial University of Newfoundland
Department: Fisheries and Marine Institute Province: Newfoundland and Labrador
Award Amount: $33,000 Installment: 1 - 5
Program: Discovery Grants Program - Individual Selection Committee: Evolution and Ecology
Research Subject: Animal ecology Area of Application: Advancement of knowledge
Co-Researchers: No Co-Researcher Partners: No Partners
Award Summary

Unprecedented geographical redistribution of marine species challenges current approaches to the management and conservation of marine living resources and ecosystems. More flexible fisheries management measures are increasingly requested to cope with observed and predicted species range shifts. Quantitative forecasting of species distributions at several time scales (daily to decadal) is widely used to promote adaptive fisheries management. However, the reliability of these forecasts is often questioned due to limitations and knowledge gaps. Limitations include the non-inclusion of population adaptation to local thermal regimes and little incorporation of seasonal variations in environmental conditions and habitat use. Knowledge gaps include limited understanding of the mechanisms driving species range shifts. The long-term goal of this research program is to identify the drivers of variability in the spatial dynamics of groundfish populations to improve projections of species distributions in response to climate and fishing at multiple temporal scales.******The unique approach proposed in this research program is to extend the use of telemetry technologies from the traditional characterization of the migratory behaviour of individuals to the quantification of population-level spatial processes. Telemetry technologies provide an underutilized source of high-resolution fishery independent data to quantify drivers of groundfish spatial dynamics.******Focusing on Atlantic cod and Atlantic halibut in the Northwest Atlantic, my team will address four complimentary short-term objectives: (1) determining a minimum sample size to infer population-level depth and temperature preferences; (2) evaluating seasonal variations in halibut density-dependent habitat selection; (3) assessing how inter-population differences in thermal preferences affect projections of cod distribution; and (4) developing real time forecasts of halibut seasonal distributions.******Ensuring that fisheries remain sustainable and profitable in a dynamic environment is critical for the livelihood and food security of coastal communities in Atlantic Canada. In the short-term, the real-time projections of Atlantic halibut distribution will facilitate the implementation of a dynamic approach to manage this commercially important species. In the long-term, a better understanding of the effects of temperature and density dependence on marine fish spatial dynamics will improve the reliability of species distribution forecasts. More reliable forecasts will assist policy makers and fisheries managers in designing effective marine protected areas and updating allocations of fishery catch and effort to better reflect range shifts in marine species.******This research program will promote data literacy for students by training them in statistical analysis, data visualization, computer programming and manipulating large data sets. These skills are in growing demand across numerous industry sectors in Canada.