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Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus): a state-dependent energy allocation model for growth, maturation, and reproductive investment

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The relationship between Atlantic bluefin tuna (ABFT, Thunnus thynnus) life history patterns and environmental conditions was investigated by developing a state-dependent model that optimizes energy allocation between growth and energy stores and the decision to spawn. The model successfully recreates growth, age-at-maturity, and seasonal variability in condition for western ABFT that spawn primarily in the Gulf of Mexico. Eastern ABFT spawning in the Mediterranean Sea display a life history trajectory shifted toward earlier maturation and, perhaps, reduced growth — a pattern predicted by the model when mortality was higher, migration distance shorter, and food intake during migration and spawning higher. Simulations highlight the sensitivity of the optimal ABFT life history strategy to variability in net energy intake, particularly during migration and spawning, a poorly understood component of their life cycle. Results also emphasize the importance for optimal life history patterns of the timing of spawning migrations in relation to the phenology and amplitude of seasonal prey availability. This study provides insight into potential mechanisms that underlie observations that are at the heart of current discussions regarding ABFT subpopulation structure and variable life history patterns.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Uni Research, Bergen, Norway. 2: Large Pelagics Research Center, Department of Conservation Biology, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Gloucester, MA 09130, USA.

Publication date: November 21, 2011

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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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