Data from: The potential for spatial distribution indices to signal thresholds in marine fish biomass
Reuchlin-Hugenholtz, Emilie; Shackell, Nancy L.; Hutchings, Jeffrey A. (2016), Data from: The potential for spatial distribution indices to signal thresholds in marine fish biomass, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.cp8pj
The frequently observed positive relationship between fish population abundance and spatial distribution suggests that changes in distribution can be indicative of trends in abundance. If contractions in spatial distribution precede declines in spawning stock biomass (SSB), spatial distribution reference points could complement the SSB reference points that are commonly used in marine conservation biology and fisheries management. When relevant spatial distribution information is integrated into fisheries management and recovery plans, risks and uncertainties associated with a plan based solely on the SSB criterion would be reduced. To assess the added value of spatial distribution data, we examine the relationship between SSB and four metrics of spatial distribution intended to reflect changes in population range, concentration, and density for 10 demersal populations (9 species) inhabiting the Scotian Shelf, Northwest Atlantic. Our primary purpose is to assess their potential to serve as indices of SSB, using fisheries independent survey data. We find that metrics of density offer the best correlate of spawner biomass. A decline in the frequency of encountering high density areas is associated with, and in a few cases preceded by, rapid declines in SSB in 6 of 10 populations. Density-based indices have considerable potential to serve both as an indicator of SSB and as spatially based reference points in fisheries management.