Interaction between Penaeid Shrimp and Fish Populations in the Gulf of Mexico: Importance of Shrimp as Forage Species

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This study investigated the contribution of shrimp stocks in supporting the production of valuable predator species. Fishery-independent data on white shrimp, brown shrimp, and selected fish species (spotted seatrout, red drum, and southern flounder) were collected from 1986 to 2014 by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and converted to catch-per-unit effort (CPUE). Here, the associations between the CPUEs of fish species as predators and those of shrimp species as prey in each sampled bay and sampling season were analyzed using co-integration analysis and Partial Least Squares Regression (PLSR). Co-integration analysis revealed significant associations between 31 of 70 possible fish/shrimp pairings. The analysis also revealed discernible seasonal and spatial patterns. White shrimp in August and brown shrimp in May were associated with fish CPUEs in bays located along the lower coast of Texas, whereas white shrimp in November was more strongly associated with fish CPUEs in bays located on the upper coast. This suggests the possible influence of latitudinal environmental gradient. The results of the PLSR, on the other hand, were not conclusive. This may reflect the high statistical error rates inherent to the analysis of short non-stationary time series. Co-integration is a robust method when analyzing non-stationary time series, and a majority of time series in this study was non-stationary. Based on our co-integration results, we conclude that the CPUE data show significant associations between shrimp abundance and the three predator fish species in the tested regions.