Abundance and Distribution Patterns of Thunnus albacares in Isla del Coco National Park through Predictive Habitat Suitability Models

Information on the distribution and habitat preferences of ecologically and commercially important species is essential for their management and protection. This is especially important as climate change, pollution, and overfishing change the structure and functioning of pelagic ecosystems. In this...

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Main Authors: Gonzáles Andrés, Cristina, Lopes, Priscila F. M., Cortés Núñez, Jorge, Sánchez Lizaso, José Luis, Pennino, Maria Grazia
Format: Artículo
Language: Inglés
Published: 2017
Subjects:
Online Access: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0168212
http://hdl.handle.net/10669/73450
Summary: Information on the distribution and habitat preferences of ecologically and commercially important species is essential for their management and protection. This is especially important as climate change, pollution, and overfishing change the structure and functioning of pelagic ecosystems. In this study, we used Bayesian hierarchical spatial-temporal models to map the Essential Fish Habitats of the Yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares) in the waters around Isla del Coco National Park, Pacific Costa Rica, based on independent underwater observations from 1993 to 2013. We assessed if observed changes in the distribution and abundance of this species are related with habitat characteristics, fishing intensity or more extreme climatic events, including the El Niño Southern Oscillation, and changes on the average sea surface temperature. Yellowfin tuna showed a decreasing abundance trend in the sampled period, whereas higher abundances were found in shallow and warmer waters, with high concentration of chlorophyll-a, and in surrounding seamounts. In addition, El Niño Southern Oscillation events did not seem to affect Yellowfin tuna distribution and abundance. Understanding the habitat preferences of this species, using approaches as the one developed here, may help design integrated programs for more efficient management of vulnerable species.