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Copepod production drives recruitment in a marine fish

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Abstract:

Predicting fluctuations in recruitment of commercial marine fish remains the Holy Grail of fisheries science. In previous studies, we identified statistical relationships linking Atlantic mackerel (Scomber scombrus) recruitment to regional climate, zooplankton biomass, and the production of copepod nauplii over a decade (1982–1991) that included the exceptionally strong year class of 1982. Here we tested the validity of these relationships by adding a second decade (1992–2003) of observations that includes another exceptional year class in 1999. We provide the first field-based evidence linking availability of plankton prey in the sea to early growth of larval fish and to year-class strength in a commercially exploited marine fish. Recruitment is shown to strongly depend on production of the copepod nauplii species that contribute to the diet of mackerel larvae. Both strong year classes were characterized by exceptionally high availability of these specific prey. We suggest that mackerel recruitment can be anticipated 3 years in advance based on prey availability during the first weeks of planktonic life and predict a strong year class for fish hatched in 2006.

La prédiction des fluctuations de recrutement des poissons marins d’importance commerciale demeure le Saint Graal des sciences halieutiques. Au cours d’études précédentes, nous avons identifié des relations statistiques reliant le recrutement du maquereau bleu (Scomber scombrus) au climat régional, à la biomasse du zooplancton ainsi qu’à la production en nauplii de copépodes durant une décennie (1982–1991) qui incluait la classe d’âge exceptionnelle de 1982. Ici nous testons la validité de ces relations en ajoutant une deuxième décennie (1992–2003) d’observations qui incluent une autre classe d’âge exceptionnelle en 1999. Nous présentons les premières preuves basées sur des données de terrain qu’il existe un lien entre la disponibilité des proies planctoniques en mer, la croissance des jeunes larves et la force des classes d’âge chez une espèce de poisson marin exploitée commercialement. Nous démontrons que le recrutement dépend fortement de la production en nauplii des espèces de copépodes qui contribuent à l’alimentation des larves de maquereau. Les deux fortes classes d’âge ont été caractérisées par une disponibilité exceptionnelle de ces proies spécifiques. Nous suggérons que le recrutement du maquereau peut être anticipé 3 ans à l’avance selon la disponibilité des proies durant les premières semaines de vie planctonique et prédisons une forte classe d’âge pour les poissons nés en 2006.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2008

More about this publication?
  • 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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