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Seasonal growth of Atlantic cod: effects of temperature, feeding and reproduction

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Growth of 2659 Atlantic cod Gadus morhua aged 4 to 9 years examined in Placentia Bay, Newfoundland, peaked in most cases in June and was at a minimum in October or November. Water temperature, partial fullness index (IP) and gonado‐somatic index (IG) explained between 31 and 52% of the monthly variability in growth. Temperature and IP of capelin Mallotus villosus had significant effects on growth of all age groups and explained most of the variance for ages 6–8 and 4–5 years, respectively. The IP of large invertebrates (ages 4 to 7 years), sandlance (Ammodytes sp. age 6 years) and demersal fishes (age 9 years) had age‐specific effects in the model. Overall, amphipods, decapods and echinoderms dominated the Atlantic cod diet in most seasons, but fish consumption by Atlantic cod was high in June and July, particularly on capelin. The rapid increase in somatic mass during June and July occurred despite cold water temperatures ( < 3° C at 50 m) and moderate to high gonado‐somatic index. The findings of this study suggest that when food was not a limiting factor, growth tended to increase even when Atlantic cod occupied colder waters, but when food was limiting, the opposite may have occured.

Keywords: Atlantic cod; Placentia Bay; diet; gonado‐somatic index; seasonal growth; water temperature

Document Type: Regular Paper


Affiliations: Fisheries Conservation Chair, Marine Institute, Memorial University of Newfoundland, P. O. Box 4920, St John’s, NL, A1C 5R3, Canada

Publication date: July 1, 2005


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