A recently published article shows that, although the influence of coastal habitats on the survival, growth, and reproduction of exploited marine species has been demonstrated widely, the absolute value of these habitats to their population dynamics has rarely been quantified.
Population dynamics are governed by four demographic rates: births, deaths, immigration, and emigration. Variation in these rates and processes underlying such variation can be used to prioritize habitat conservation and restoration as well as to parameterize models that predict habitat-specific effects on population dynamics.
Article ICES Working Group
The current understanding of patterns of habitat-specific demographic variability in exploited marine species, as well as processes underlying these patterns, was recently reviewed in a paper produced by an ICES working group: ‘the Value of Coastal Habitat for Exploited Species (WGVHES).
Quantifying habitat-specific rates
There were many examples of the influence of coastal habitats on survival, growth, and movement, especially at young stages, and there was an emerging focus on the effects of habitat degradation on demographic rates. However, there needs to be an increased effort on quantifying habitat-specific demographic rates and integrating these to better predict the effects of coastal habitats on the dynamics of exploited marine populations.