Linking cod (Gadus morhua) and climate: investigating variability in Irish Sea cod recruitment



How climatic variability and anthropogenic pressures interact to influence recruitment is a key factor in achieving sustainable resource management. However, the combined effects of these pressures can make it difficult to detect non-stationary interactions or shifts in the relationships with recruitment. Here we examine the links between climate and Irish Sea cod recruitment during a period of declining spawning stock biomass (SSB). Specifically, we test for a shift in the relationship between recruitment, SSB and climate by comparing an additive (generalized additive model, GAM) and non-additive threshold model (TGAM). The relationship between recruitment success, SSB and the climatic driver, sea surface temperature, was best described by the TGAM, with a threshold identified between recruitment and SSB at approximately 7900 t. The analysis suggests a threshold shift in the relationship between recruitment and SSB in Irish Sea cod, with cod recruitment being more sensitive to climatic variability during the recent low SSB regime.