Integrated Multi-Stressor Observations, Modeling, and Experiments To Inform Management in the Northern California Current

The combined effects of ocean acidification (OA), hypoxia, marine heatwaves (MHW), and harmful algal blooms (HABs) are grand challenges for ocean management. For the single most valuable fishery on the West Coast, Dungeness crab, hypoxia has resulted in mass mortality events in commercial and Tribal fishing grounds. Season-scale closures due to HAB are linked to the largest MHW recorded in the global ocean in 3 decades The region’s oyster hatcheries, which support a >$100 million industry annually, have suffered the direct effects of OA. Hypoxia can shift the distribution of groundfish stocks and is already impacting the performance of fishery-independent surveys in the region.

The continued intensification of these multi-stressors poses substantial challenges for the management of ocean resources, ecosystems, and protected species. For example, because Dungeness crabs is an anchor fishery for many fishermen, the loss of and/or shifts in harvest opportunities can increase pressure on management for other fisheries including those for salmon. For marine sanctuaries, and treaty-protected tribal fishing areas that have fixed boundaries, uncertainties in the intensity and impacts of warming, OAH, MHW, and HABs severely threaten the ecology and access to marine resources.

Our NOAA-funded project, "Integrated multi-stressor observations, modeling, and experiments to inform management in the Northern California Current" is a strategic plan that partners researchers with managers to ameliorate the impacts of multi-stressors today and into the future.


The project objectives are to:

  1. Integrate regional physical-chemical-biological data collected from cruises, moorings, and autonomous sensors to determine exposure history and species and community composition in response to multiple stressors using a variety of different analyses and statistical approaches;
  2. Conduct laboratory studies to delineate key species life stage sensitivity to multi-stressors interactively with HABs;
  3. Incorporate species and community response results and their thresholds into high-resolution ecosystem models to simulate community response to multiple stressors under projected climate change to identify management solutions;
  4. Conduct stakeholder consultations with decision-makers to understand key information and data product needs to ensure the relevance of research outputs.