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AFSC Seminar Series No. 20

Scheduled Seminars

"Climate and Fisheries; present and future challenges to understanding marine ecosystems"

Presenter: Anne Hollowed, REFM, AFSC, NOAA

When: Tuesday, April 3, 2007, 11:00am
Where: Traynor Seminar Rm (2076), Bldg. 4,  AFSC, Sand Point Campus, Seattle, Washington

  • This seminar will be transmitted live to the Auke Bay Laboratory (main conference room), and to the Newport Laboratory (BFB - Room 201).
  • When arriving from off the WRC campus, leave extra time to check in with security at the gate and at the entrance to building 4.


The scientific community is calling for advances in sustainable fisheries management that take into account the marine ecosystem. This requires collaboration between fisheries ecologists and oceanographers to develop sufficient knowledge of the system to forecast the impact of climate on ecosystems. Considerable progress has been made towards the development of forecasting tools. Several groups have conducted large multidisciplinary research programs to identify mechanisms linking climate to fish production.

While numerous mechanisms have been proposed, the accuracy of forecasts based on these mechanisms has been mixed. We speculate that there are three primary reasons for this result, and that progress in the future is dependent on conceptual advancements. First, we note that the role of climate on the quality and quantity of ocean habitats has often been overlooked as a critical factor influencing the growth and survival of marine species. Climate, ocean landscapes and their interaction, in the scale of hierarchical organization are conditions that set boundaries on the lower scale interactions. Second, we find that the complexity of responses of fish to environmental disturbance varies across life stages and species. Third, we note that the forecasts of ecosystem impacts on individual species may be mixed while the system level responses may be more predictable. Thus, inclusion of concept of system ecology in multidisciplinary research may be necessary to identify boundary states where proposed mechanisms are likely to be relevant.

Our findings suggest that advancements in fisheries science require fish biologists, systems ecologists, and oceanographers to join in a common effort to test the nature of our understanding of fish responses to environmental disturbance through hypothesis testing. The near-future challenge is to test whether our conceptual understanding of linkages between observed ocean conditions and fish population dynamics captures trends and patterns rather than make accurate predictions of individual species.

Presenter's Bio:

Dr. Anne Hollowed received her B.A. in Biology and Geology from Lawrence University, her M.S. in Biological Oceanography from Old Dominion University, and her Ph.D. in Fisheries from the University of Washington. She has worked at the Alaska Fisheries Science Center since 1982. First as a Fisheries Research Biologist conducting stock assessments and research on groundfish stocks in the North Pacific. In 1998, she was promoted to Supervisory Research Fisheries Biologist and served as the leader of the Status of Stocks and Multispecies Assessment (SSMA) Program. Currently, she holds a Senior Scientist position at AFSC.


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