Population diversity in Pacific herring of the Puget Sound, USA
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Demographic, functional, or habitat diversity can confer stability on populations via portfolio effects (PEs) that integrate across multiple ecological responses and buffer against environmental impacts. The prevalence of these PEs in aquatic organisms is as yet unknown, and can be difficult to quantify; however, understanding mechanisms that stabilize populations in the face of environmental change is a key concern in ecology. Here, we examine PEs in Pacific herring (Clupea pallasii) in Puget Sound (USA) using a 40-year time series of biomass data for 19 distinct spawning population units collected using two survey types. Multivariate auto-regressive state-space models show independent dynamics among spawning subpopulations, suggesting that variation in herring production is partially driven by local effects at spawning grounds or during the earliest life history stages. This independence at the subpopulation level confers a stabilizing effect on the overall Puget Sound spawning stock, with herring being as much as three times more stable in the face of environmental perturbation than a single population unit of the same size. Herring populations within Puget Sound are highly asynchronous but share a common negative growth rate and may be influenced by the Pacific Decadal Oscillation. The biocomplexity in the herring stock shown here demonstrates that preserving spatial and demographic diversity can increase the stability of this herring population and its availability as a resource for consumers.
KeywordsForage fish Clupea pallasii Population structure State-space model Time series analysis Portfolio effect
The authors would like to thank E. E. Holmes, M. D. Scheuerell, E. J. Ward, D. E. Schindler, A. O. Shelton and two anonymous reviewers for reviewing earlier versions of this manuscript. We thank Kurt Stick, Adam Lindquist and Dayv Lowry at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife for data and for their insight on Puget Sound Pacific herring, and Kiva Oken for assistance with simulating correlated time series. M. C. Siple was supported by an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship and a fellowship from the University of Washington School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences. This document has been funded wholly or in part by the United States Environmental Protection Agency under assistance agreement 00J30301-0 to the University of Washington. The contents of this document do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Environmental Protection Agency, nor does mention of trade names or commercial products constitute endorsement or recommendation for use.
Author contribution statement
T. B. F. conceived the study, M. C. S. designed model selection procedures and performed the analysis. M. C. S. and T. B. F. wrote the manuscript.
Compliance with ethical standards
This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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