Journal article Open Access

Global habitat preferences of commercially valuable tuna

Arrizabalaga, Haritz; Dufour, Florence; Kell, Laurence; Merino, Gorka; Ibaibarriaga, Leire; Chust, Guillem; Irigoien, Xabien; Santiago, Josu; Murua, Hilario; Fraile, Igaratza; Chifflet, Marina; Goikoetxea, Nerea; Sagarminaga, Yolanda; Aumont, Olivier; Bopp, Laurent; Herrera, Miguel; Fromentin, Jean-Marc; Bonhomeau, Sylvain

In spite of its pivotal role in future implementations of the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management, current knowledge about tuna habitat preferences remains fragmented and heterogeneous, because it relies mainly on regional or local studies that have used a variety of approaches making them difficult to combine. Therefore in this study we analyse data from six tuna species in the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans in order to provide a global, comparative perspective of habitat preferences. These data are longline catch per unit effort from 1958 to 2007 for albacore, Atlantic bluefin, southern bluefin, bigeye, yellowfin and skipjack tunas. Both quotient analysis and Generalised Additive Models were used to determine habitat preference with respect to eight biotic and abiotic variables. Results confirmed that, compared to temperate tunas, tropical tunas prefer warm, anoxic, stratified waters. Atlantic and southern bluefin tuna prefer higher concentrations of chlorophyll than the rest. The two species also tolerate most extreme sea surface height anomalies and highest mixed layer depths. In general, Atlantic bluefin tuna tolerates the widest range of environmental conditions. An assessment of the most important variables determining fish habitat is also provided.

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