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  • Suitability of somatic growth of English sole as an ecosystem indicator.


Northwest Fisheries Science Center (NWFSC) Fish Ecology FE - Ecosystem Analysis


English sole somatic growth
Suitability of somatic growth of English sole as an ecosystem indicator.
Puget Sound is a large marine ecosystem to which state and federal agencies have initiated an ecosystem-scale management strategy in order to restore and maintain Puget Sounds valuable economic, natural, and cultural resources. The first step to achieving ecosystem-scale management is to perform an Integrated Ecosystem Assessment (IEA), a process that identifies relevant ecosystem indicators and establishes the critical benchmarks for promoting and attaining health and effective restoration to the ecosystem. Aspects of ecosystem indicators pertain to physical, chemical, ecological, and human processes.

In this project, we are investigating the suitability of using somatic growth of a common flatfish (English sole, Parophrys vetulus) as an ecosystem indicator of the physical and chemical environment. For somatic growth to be considered a suitable ecosystem indicator, we are assessing whether there are significant correlations to relevant aspects of the abiotic and biotic environment. Specifically, we are investigating how otolith-derived estimates of somatic growth from sites throughout Puget Sound vary with regards to environment (e.g., water temperature, salinity, and dissolved oxygen) and anthropogenic (e.g., exposure to chemical contaminants) factors. To further understand how growth could act as an ecosystem indicator we are also determining how metabolism and consumption (estimated from a bioenergetics approach) vary under current and projected contaminant loads and climate change scenarios. This bioenergetics approach allows for the determination of a threshold range of values, for environmental and anthropogenic factors, that would produce a detectable response in somatic growth of English sole.

Research Themes

Sustainable, safe and secure seafood for healthy populations and vibrant communities
Effective fisheries management provides economic opportunities and ensures the long-term sustainability of fisheries and the habitats on which they depend. The NWFSC seeks to improve the quality and quantity of data used in stock assessments, the methods for assessing stocks and ecosystem sustainability within the context of human modification of the environment. The NWFSC also provides state-of-the-art science and technology to support aquaculture while protecting and maintaining ecosystem health. Further, pathogens, toxins from harmful algal blooms (HABs), chemical contaminants and other stressors of marine ecosystems pose significant risks to health of both seafood resources and to humans. The NWFSC focuses on research to improve understanding of those risks, how to forecast them, and identify means to mitigate their impacts.

Research Foci

Support collaborative community-based data collection, dissemination, and analysis for fishers, fisheries management, science, marketing, seafood safety, and education
Data are no longer the sole province of the agency. As technologies advance, fishers are collecting and analyzing fleet data in near real time. Data collected by fishers are used by the fishing community to reduce bycatch, allocate fishery impacts, and trace products through the processing and marketing system. Fisher-collected data, in combination with survey and oceanographic data, satellite remote sensing, economic data, and sociocultural data provide improved understanding of fish stocks, fishing, and the near-shore ecosystem. Collaborative efforts increase the quantity and quality of data available to the agency for scientific analysis, modeling, fishery management, and conservation. Through cooperation with the science and management agencies, the fishing community stands to gain more control and flexibility of their fishing operations, including the potential for improved economic efficiency. Increased availability of fisheries data creates opportunities for education and outreach both in the school system and to the general public. Further, well-informed local leaders conversant in the latest fishery issues will help garner local support and fisher buy-in for improved information sharing. The NWFSC will work with industry groups to improve distributed data collection, compilation, and distribution for multiple uses in fisheries, management, science, marketing, and education.


balance organ used to model growth and movement
toxic effects
changes in physical, physiological, or biological processes caused by a substance in an organism


Suitability of somatic growth of English sole as an ecosystem indicator.
Suitability of somatic growth of English sole as an ecosystem indicator.
WSN conference presentation By R. Marshall.


Species Parophrys vetulus
English sole


Bernadita Anulacion
Internal Collaborator
Paul Chittaro
Principal Investigator
Richard Zabel
Internal Collaborator