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Potential changes in skipjack tuna (Katsuwonus pelamis) habitat from a global warming scenario: modelling approach and preliminary results

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Recent studies suggest a reduction of primary production in the tropical oceans because of changes in oceanic circulation under global warming conditions caused by increasing atmospheric CO2 concentration. This might affect the productivity of medium and higher trophic levels with potential consequences on marine resources such as tropical tuna. Here we combine the projections of up-to-date climate and ocean biogeochemical models with recent concepts of representation of fish habitat based on prey abundance and ambient temperature to gain some insight into the impact of climate change on skipjack tuna (Katsuwonus pelamis), the species that dominates present-day tuna catch. For a world with doubled atmospheric CO2 concentration, our results suggest significant large-scale changes of skipjack habitat in the equatorial Pacific. East of the date line, conditions could be improved by an extension of the present favourable habitat zones of the western equatorial Pacific, a feature reminiscent of warming conditions associated with El Niño events. Despite its simplicity and the associated underlying hypothesis, this first simulation is used to stress future research directions and key issues for modelling developments associated to global change.

Keywords: CO2; El Niño Southern Oscillation; climate; global change; primary production; spatial modelling; tuna forage; tuna habitat

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Institut Pierre Simon Laplace, Case 101, U.P.M.C, 4 place Jussieu, 75252 Paris cedex 5, France 2: Oceanic Fisheries Programme, Secretariat of the Pacific Community, BP D5, 98848 Noumea cedex, New Caledonia

Publication date: September 1, 2003


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