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Temporal and spatial variation in potential and realized growth rates of age‐0 year northern rock sole

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The possibility of prey limitations on the growth performance of age‐0 year northern rock sole Lepidopsetta polyxystra was evaluated at three sites along the north‐east coast of Kodiak Island, Alaska, U.S.A., by comparison of observed to potential growth rates. Growth potential was measured in the laboratory across the range of temperatures encountered by this species during the first summer of life. Growth potential (gL, mm day−1) increased with water temperature (T) between 2 and 13° C, according to: gL = 0·0151 + 0·3673·log10(T). There were significant differences in growth rate between the three field sites such that Holiday Beach fish were 7·1 mm longer than Shakmanof Beach fish by mid‐September, with Pillar Creek Cove fish of intermediate size. Temperature differences between sites accounted for less than half of this variation. The remainder may have been related to differences in prey availability among the sites in association with observed differences in sediment characteristics. In addition to the spatial variability, there was significant monthly variation in growth performance. Realized growth rates between July and August were in excess of 85% of potential. Between August and September, however, realized growth fell to 43–71% of potential indicating a decline in conditions for growth. The spatial variation in growth rates was not density‐dependent as the site with the highest fish densities (Holiday Beach) also supported the highest growth rates. The available data indicates that for this subtidal species, interannual variation in growth may be more important than site variation.
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Keywords: growth potential; growth rate; northern rock sole; site differences; temperature

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: 1: Fisheries Behavioral Ecology Program, Alaska Fisheries Science Center, NOAA-NMFS, Hatfield Marine Science Center, Newport, Oregon 97365, U.S.A. and 2: Alaska Fisheries Science Center, NOAA-NMFS, Kodiak Laboratory, 301 Research Court, Kodiak, Alaska 99615, U.S.A.

Publication date: 2006-03-01

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