Pershing, AJ, Record, NR, Monger, BC, Pendleton, DE, Woodard, LA (2009). Model-based estimates of Calanus finmarchicus abundance in the Gulf of Maine. MARINE ECOLOGY-PROGRESS SERIES, 378, 227-243.
Ocean observing systems and satellites routinely collect a wealth of information on physical conditions in the ocean. With few exceptions, such as chlorophyll concentrations, information on biological properties is harder to measure autonomously. Here, we present a system to produce estimates of the distribution and abundance of the copepod Calanus finmarchicus in the Gulf of Maine. Our system uses satellite-based measurements of sea surface temperature and chlorophyll concentration to determine the developmental and reproductive rates of C. finmarchicus. The rate information then drives a population dynamics model of C. finmarchicus that is embedded in a 2-dimensional circulation field. The first generation of this system produces realistic information on interannual variability in C. finmarchicus distribution and abundance during the winter and spring. The model can also be used to identify key drivers of interannual variability in C. finmarchicus. Experiments with the model suggest that changes in initial conditions are overwhelmed by variability in growth rates after approximately 50 d. Temperature has the largest effect on growth rate. Elevated chlorophyll during the late winter can lead to increased C. finmarchicus abundance during the spring, but the effect of variations in chlorophyll concentrations is secondary to the other inputs. Our system could be used to provide real-time estimates or even forecasts of C. finmarchicus distribution. These estimates could then be used to support management of copepod predators such as herring and right whales.