New publication: Density‐ and size‐dependent mortality in fish early life stages

By Leif Christian Stige*, Lauren A. Rogers, Anna B. Neuheimer, Mary E. Hunsicker, Natalia A. Yaragina, Geir Ottersen*, Lorenzo Ciannelli, Øystein Langangen*, and Joël M. Durant* in Fish and Fisheries. Open access.

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The importance of survival and growth variations early in life for population dynamics depends on the degrees of compensatory density dependence and size dependence in survival at later life stages. Quantifying density‐ and size‐dependent mortality at different juvenile stages is therefore important to understand and potentially predict the recruitment to the population. We applied a statistical state‐space modelling approach to analyse time series of abundance and mean body size of larval and juvenile fish. The focus was to identify the importance of abundance and body size for growth and survival through successive larval and juvenile age intervals, and to quantify how the dynamics propagate through the early life to influence recruitment. We thus identified both relevant ages and mechanisms (i.e. density dependence and size dependence in survival and growth) linking recruitment variability to early life dynamics. The analysis was conducted on six economically and ecologically important fish populations from cold temperate and sub‐arctic marine ecosystems. Our results underscore the importance of size for survival early in life. The comparative analysis suggests that size‐dependent mortality and density‐dependent growth frequently occur at a transition from pelagic to demersal habitats, which may be linked to competition for suitable habitat. The generality of this hypothesis warrants testing in future research.

Fish and Fisheries
First published: 17 July 2019
DOI: 10.1111/faf.12391
Publication webpage. 

* Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis (CEES), Department of Biosciences, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway.
See the publication webpage for full author information.

Tags: Fish and Fisheries;
Published Aug. 21, 2019 10:21 AM - Last modified Aug. 21, 2019 10:21 AM