Does the fall phytoplankton bloom control recruitment of Georges Bank haddock, Melanogrammus aeglefinus, through parental condition?

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In 2003, the Georges Bank stock of haddock (Melanogrammus aeglefinus) experienced the largest recruitment event recorded during its assessed history. Several hypotheses have been advanced to explain recruitment variability in this much-scrutinized stock, including variability in the retention of eggs and larvae on Georges Bank, the timing of haddock spawning, and variability in the spring bloom, which influences larval growth and survival. Although these processes may contribute to the formation of successful year classes, none of the factors associated with these previous hypotheses provides an adequate explanation of the 2003 recruitment event. We analyzed data on the dynamics of the fall phytoplankton bloom the year prior to spawning and show it to be highly correlated with subsequent recruitment. We suggest that the fall bloom affects recruitment through enhanced condition of adults and by increasing the quantity and quality of their reproductive output, which in turn leads to a higher probability of survival of their offspring. Although synoptic data on the fall bloom are limited and our analyses are correlative, our purpose is to stimulate a rigorous test of this promising “parental condition hypothesis”.

En 2003, le stock d’aiglefins (Melanogrammus aeglefinus) du banc George a connu le plus important épisode de recrutement jamais enregistré durant toute son histoire connue. Plusieurs hypothèses ont été avancées pour expliquer la variabilité du recrutement dans ce stock bien étudié, et en particulier, la variabilité de la rétention des oeufs et des larves sur le banc George, le calendrier de la fraie de l’aiglefin et la variabilité du foisonnement printanier des algues qui influence la croissance et la survie des larves. Bien que ces processus puissent contribuer au succès de certaines classes annuelles, aucun des facteurs associés à ces hypothèses ne permet d’expliquer de façon adéquate l’épisode de recrutement de 2003. Nous avons analysé les données sur la dynamique du foisonnement du phytoplancton d’automne pendant l’année qui précède la fraie et nous trouvons une forte corrélation avec le recrutement subséquent. Nous croyons que le foisonnement d’automne affecte le recrutement en améliorant la condition des adultes et en augmentant la quantité et la qualité de leur rendement reproductif, ce qui par contrecoup accroît la probabilité de survie de leurs rejetons. Bien qu’il existe une quantité limitée de données synoptiques sur le foisonnement du phytoplancton d’automne, notre but est d’inciter la conduite d’un test rigoureux de cette hypothèse prometteuse de la « condition parentale ».

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2008

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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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