Integrated Assessment of Wind Effects on Central California’s Pelagic Ecosystem

Abstract

Ecosystem-based management requires integrated physical studies on biological functions. In this study, we hypothesized that seasonal variation in upwelling-favorable winds has differential influences on species of the central California Current pelagic ecosystem. To test this hypothesis, we developed multivariate indicators of upwelling and species’ responses using wind and sea surface temperature (SST) data from buoys and growth and reproductive data for 11 species of fish and seabirds. From previous work, we predicted that winds and SST could be decomposed into winter and spring/summer ‘modes’ of variability, but only a single mode of “winter/spring” environmental variability was observed. We attribute this difference from expectations to the local and shorter-term measurements of winds and SST used in this study. Most species responded to winds and SST variability similarly, but SST was a better predictor of most biological responses. Both SST and wind were better predictors than the traditional upwelling index. Notably, Pacific sardine (Sardinops sajax) was disassociated with the other biotic measurements and showed no relationships with coastal upwelling. The multivariate indicators developed here are particularly appropriate for integrated ecosystem assessments of climatic influences on marine life because they reflect both structure and processes (upwelling and timing/growth/productivity) known to determine functions in marine ecosystems.

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Acknowledgments

Studies of Farallon Island seabirds were conducted by PRBO Conservation Science in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Farallon National Wildlife Refuge. This study was supported by NSF award no. 1130125 and donors of the Farallon Institute. We thank our colleagues Roy Mendelssohn, Brian Wells, Jarrod Santora, John Largier, and Marcel Losekoot for stimulating discussions concerning the seasonality of upwelling and ecosystem response.

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Correspondence to Marisol García-Reyes.

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MGR, WJS, BAB, and SJB conceived and designed the study; MGR, WJS, BAB, JAT, and SJB obtained and curated the data; MGR, WJS, SAT, and RRR contributed methods and analyzed the data; MGR and WJS wrote the paper with comments and revisions contributed by all coauthors.

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García-Reyes, M., Sydeman, W.J., Thompson, S.A. et al. Integrated Assessment of Wind Effects on Central California’s Pelagic Ecosystem. Ecosystems 16, 722–735 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10021-013-9643-6

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Keywords

  • seabirds
  • rockfish
  • salmon
  • sardine
  • upwelling
  • growth
  • breeding success
  • recruitment
  • temperature