Modeling the Population Effects of Hypoxia on Atlantic Croaker ( Micropogonias undulatus ) in the Northwestern Gulf of Mexico: Part 1—Model Description and Idealized Hypoxia

Estuaries and Coasts(2017)

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We developed a spatially explicit, individual-based model to analyze how hypoxia effects on reproduction, growth, and mortality of Atlantic croaker in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico lead to population-level responses. The model follows the hourly growth, mortality, reproduction, and movement of individuals on a 300 × 800 spatial grid of 1-km 2 cells for 140 years. Chlorophyll-a concentration, water temperature, and dissolved oxygen (DO) were specified daily for each grid cell and repeated for each year of the simulation. A bioenergetics model was used to represent growth, mortality was assumed stage- and age-dependent, and the movement behavior of juveniles and adults was modeled based on temperature and avoidance of low DO. Hypoxia effects were imposed using exposure effect submodels that converted time-varying exposures to low DO to reduced hourly growth, increased hourly mortality, and reduced annual fecundity. Results showed that 100 years of either mild or intermediate hypoxia produced small reductions in population abundance, while repeated severe hypoxia caused a 19% reduction in long-term population abundance. Relatively few individuals were exposed to low DO each hour, but many individuals experienced some exposure. The response was dominated by a 5% average reduction in annual fecundity of individuals. Under conditions of random sequences of mild, intermediate, and severe hypoxia years occurring in proportion to their historical frequency, the model predicted a 10% decrease in the long-term population abundance of croaker. A companion paper substitutes hourly DO values from a three-dimensional water quality model for the idealized hypoxia and results in a more realistic population reduction of about 25%.
Hypoxia,Population,Croaker,Individual-based model,Gulf of Mexico
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