Short- and long-term climate oscillations impact seascapes, and hence, marine ecosystem structure and dynamics. Here, we explored the spatio-temporal patterns of potential squid habitat in the western and central North Pacific across inter-decadal climate transitions, coincident with periods of persistent warming and cooling. Potential habitat distributions of Ommastrephes bartramii
were derived from the outputs of multi-ensemble species distribution models, developed using the most influential environmental factors to squid distribution and occurrence data. Our analyses captured the underlying temporal trends in potential squid habitat in response to environmental changes transpiring at each climatic transition, regulated by phase shifts in Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO) from 1999–2013. The spatial differences in environmental conditions were apparent across transitions and presumably modulate the local changes in suitable squid habitat over time. Specifically, during a cold to warm PDO shift, decreases in the summer potential habitat (mean rate ± standard deviation: −0.04 ± 0.02 habitat suitability index (HSI)/yr) were observed along the southern edge of the subarctic frontal zone (162°E–172°W). Coincidentally, this area also exhibits a warming trend (mean temporal trend: 0.06 ± 0.21 °C/yr), accompanied with the prevalence of cold-core mesoscale eddies, west of the dateline (mean temporal trend in sea surface height: −0.19 ± 1.05 cm/yr). These conditions potentially generate less favorable foraging habitat for squid. However, a warm-to-cold PDO transition underpins a northward shift of suitable habitat and an eastward shift of regions exhibiting the highest rate of potential squid habitat loss (170–160°W; mean temporal trend: −0.05 ± 0.03 HSI/yr). Nonetheless, the emergence of the areas with increasingly suitable habitat regardless of climate transitions suggests the ecological importance of these regions as potential squid habitat hotspots and climatic refugia.
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