Sardine and anchovy are two forage species of particular interest because of their low-frequency cycles in adult abundance in boundary current regions, combined with a commercially relevant contribution to the global marine food catch. While several hypotheses have been put forth to explain decadal shifts in sardine and anchovy populations, a mechanistic basis for how the physics, biogeochemistry, and biology combine to produce patterns of synchronous variability across widely separated systems has remained elusive. The present study uses a 50-year (1959-2008) simulation of a fully coupled end-to-end ecosystem model configured for sardine and anchovy in the California Current System to investigate how environmental processes control their population dynamics. The results illustrate that slightly different temperature and diet preferences can lead to significantly different responses to environmental variability. Simulated adult population fluctuations are associated with age-1 growth (via age-2 egg production) and prey availability for anchovy, while they depend primarily on age-0 survival and temperature for sardine. The analysis also hints at potential linkages to known modes of climate variability, whereby changes in adult abundance are related to ENSO for anchovy and to the PDO for sardine. The connection to the PDO and ENSO is consistent with modes of interannual and decadal variability that would alternatively favor anchovy during years of cooler temperatures and higher prey availability, and sardine during years of warmer temperatures and lower prey availability. While the end-to-end ecosystem model provides valuable insight on potential relationships between environmental conditions and sardine and anchovy population dynamics, understanding the complex interplay, and potential lags, between the full array of processes controlling their abundances in the California Current System remains an on-going challenge.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Aquatic Science