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Research Technical Report

Lingcod (Ophiodon elongatus) Habitat Associations in California: Implications for Conservation and Management

Bassett, M., J. Lindholm, C. Garza, R. Kvitek, and D. Wilson-Vandenberg (November 2017)

Environmental Biology of Fishes


Understanding the spatial distribution of marine species and the temporal and spatial scales of the processes that drive those distributions continues to be limited, but is increasingly more critical with the implementation of marine spatial planning. Lingcod (Ophiodon elongatus) are a common demersal fish on the west coast of North America and are exploited both commercially and recreationally across the entirety of their range. Due to stock declines, Lingcod are managed using a variety of fisheries management tools, including spatial management. This study represents a unique in situ investigation of demersal habitat utilization by Lingcod at the southern portion of their range (Point Arena to Morro Bay, California). ROV and towed camera sled derived underwater video imagery were coupled with high-resolution bathymetry data and evaluated using Generalized Linear Models to investigate: a) how Lingcod are distributed relative to seafloor habitats along California’s central coast, b) the extent to which any ontogenetic patterns varied across habitats, and c) how associations based on visual observations compare to those from landscape modeling analysis. The results of this study clearly depicted an ontogenetic shift in Lingcod habitat utilization. Lingcod shifted from primarily low relief, soft sediments as young to mixed substrates at intermediate ages and ultimately to primarily harder substrates as adults. These results are important in the context of on-going marine spatial planning wherein further information on the habitat associations of targeted species can allow for more refined management.