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Atlantic mackerel (Scomber scombrus) recruitment fluctuations in relation to copepod production and juvenile growth

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A previous study identified relationships linking variations in the physical environment to fluctuations in zooplankton biomass and Atlantic mackerel (Scomber scombrus) recruitment. Diets of mackerel larvae were compared among four years, one of these years producing an exceptional year-class (1982). Comparisons were standardized for larval length and time of day. Stomach fullness differed significantly among years, with highest values observed in 1982. Stomach content wet weights were significantly larger in 1982 than in 1987 and 1996. The mean weight of Calanus finmarchicus nauplii prey in the diet was also significantly greater in 1982 than in 1985, 1987, or 1996. Female C. finmarchicus were more abundant and more widely distributed in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence in 1982 compared with 1985, 1987, and 1990. These findings are consistent with the hypothesis of a link between production of copepod nauplii, feeding of mackerel larvae, and recruitment success. However, mackerel size at the end of the first year, as measured on otoliths, varied significantly between years and was smallest in 1982. We propose hypotheses to account for the coupling between high larval food abundance, small juvenile growth, and strong cohorts.

Une étude précédente a identifié une relation liant les variations de l'environnement physique aux fluctuations de la biomasse zooplanctonique et à la force du recrutement du maquereau bleu (Scomber scombrus) du sud du golfe du Saint-Laurent. L'alimentation des larves de maquereau a été comparée entre quatre années, l'une d'entre elle produisant une classe d'âge exceptionnelle (1982). L'indice de plénitude des estomacs a varié significativement entre les années avec les valeurs les plus fortes en 1982. Le poids du contenu stomacal était significativement plus grand en 1982 qu'en 1987 et 1996 et le poids des proies nauplii Calanus finmarchicus dans les estomacs était significativement plus grand en 1982 qu'en 1985, 1987 ou 1996. Les C. finmarchicus femelles étaient plus abondantes et avaient une distribution plus vaste dans le sud du Golfe du St-Laurent en 1982 qu'en 1985, 1987 et 1990. Ces observations supportent l'hypothèse d'un lien entre la production de nauplii de copépodes, l'alimentation des larves de maquereau et la force du recrutement. Toutefois, la taille des maquereaux juvéniles mesurée à partir des otolithes, a varié significativement entre les années et était la plus faible en 1982. Nous proposons des hypothèses qui pourraient expliquer le couplage entre la forte abondance de nourriture pour les larves, la faible croissance juvénile et les fortes cohortes.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2002

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  • Published continuously since 1901 (under various titles), this monthly journal is the primary publishing vehicle for the multidisciplinary field of aquatic sciences. It publishes perspectives (syntheses, critiques, and re-evaluations), discussions (comments and replies), articles, and rapid communications, relating to current research on cells, organisms, populations, ecosystems, or processes that affect aquatic systems. The journal seeks to amplify, modify, question, or redirect accumulated knowledge in the field of fisheries and aquatic science. Occasional supplements are dedicated to single topics or to proceedings of international symposia.
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