New publication: Increased early offspring growth can offset the costs of long-distance spawning migration in fish
For long-distance migrations to pay off for individual fish, the energetic costs must be counterbalanced by benefits. Understanding the fitness trade-offs associated with migration is essential for our ability to sustainably manage migratory species. Here, we investigated such trade-offs associated with the spawning migration of Northeast Arctic cod Gadus morhua, a stock of high historical and commercial value known to be able to migrate more than 1000 km southward to reach suitable spawning grounds. Reaching the more distant spawning grounds requires more energy and hence leaves less energy available for processes such as egg production. Previous studies have indicated that increased larval survival (e.g. from rapid early development in warmer southern waters) may offset the parental costs of migration. However, it was suggested that spatial variability in survival of early life stages might cancel out this survival benefit. As an alternative, we ask if the fitness benefit of long-distance migration may reside in increased offspring growth. Using an integral projection model incorporating effects of body length and migration distance, we quantified the increase in offspring growth needed to offset parental costs of long-distance migration on fitness. Our results suggest that a 12.5% length increase of juvenile cod is required to offset parental costs of long-distance migration. This is within the estimated growth benefit of 20% suggested by drift models of early life stages of cod. These results highlight the potential importance of offspring growth as another factor explaining the benefit of long-distance migration, broadening our knowledge on spawning migration.
Published in MEPS Vol. 600: 141–150.
Online publication date: July 30, 2018
* Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis (CEES), Department of Biosciences, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway.