Monday, December 19, 2011

Snow crab models

Nothing reinvigorates my love for snow crabs like the Interagency Crab Meeting (I posted about last year's meeting here). So, after a fun and exciting meeting, I checked in with the blog to see what new opilio posts I had in the works, and wouldn't you know it? I just saw a talk about the article I had in my blog queue! Can you believe it?!?

so excited to be at the
World's Largest Truck Stop
Interagency Crab Meeting!

What was the talk, you're asking? Sarah Hardy's "Predicting the distribution and ecological niche of unexploited snow crab (Chionoecetes opilio) populations in Alaskan waters: A first open-access ensemble model".

crab: "I'm a model, you know what I mean,
and I do my little turn on the catwalk!"

No, not that kind of model! Sarah and her co-authors ran GIS-based open-access ensemble models. Let me (try to) break that down for you:

GIS-based = data was compiled for all sampling locations using ArcGIS, a mapping program

open-access = snow crab data that is available to anyone using both published and unpublished data

ensemble = they used a combination of 3 model algorithms' outputs in order to get the best model predictions

So what were they predicting? Snow crab presence-absence, abundance, and biomass. The abundance model didn't predict large Bering Sea populations while the biomass models were in line with Bering Sea observations. BUT this makes sense: the results of those two models may be because there were more small crabs in the southern Chukchi Sea (throwing abundance off) while the Bering Sea crabs are larger than the Chukchi crabs (keeping biomass relatively consistent with what's known). Remember we learned about size differences with respect to latitude here, here, and here already!

snow crab get smaller the farther north they are found
(snow crabs NOT to scale!)

I don't want to give away all the secrets, so if you're interested in how the presence-absence model worked out, read the published article here!

model citation:
Hardy, S. M., M. Lindgren, H. Konakanchi, and F. Huettmann. Predicting the distribution and ecological niche of unexploited snow crab (Chionoecetes opilio) populations in Alaskan waters: a first open-access ensemble model. Integrative and Comparative Biology 51: 608-622.

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