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Maternal age, fecundity, egg quality, and recruitment: linking stock structure to recruitment using an age-structured Ricker model

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Abstract:

Understanding the process of recruitment is fundamental to fisheries biology and management. However, recruitment in natural populations is highly variable and rarely well described by classical stock–recruitment relationships (SRRs). Recent analyses suggest that the age composition of the spawning biomass may play an important role in the mismatch between SRRs and data. Here we develop a generalization of the Ricker SRR that incorporates age structure by allowing mortality and fecundity rates to depend on maternal age. We provide a flexible SRR with biologically interpretable parameters that can be estimated from existing fisheries time series and use a Bayesian framework that enables parameters to be informed by experimental data. We apply our method to the Icelandic population of Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) and show models that include age structure effects outperform the classical Ricker SRR that ignores age structure. Our results indicate a strong effect of spawning stock age structure on recruitment dynamics in this population. Our approach provides a biologically interpretable and immediately applicable method for investigating the consequences for spawning stock age structure on recruitment.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1139/f2012-082

Affiliations: 1: Fisheries Ecology Division, Southwest Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries Service, National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, 110 Shaffer Road, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA. 2: Dalhousie University, Department of Biology, Life Sciences Centre, Halifax, NS B3H 4J1, Canada. 3: Center for Stock Assessment Research, University of California, Santa Cruz, Mail Stop SOE-2, Santa Cruz, CA 95064, USA.

Publication date: October 21, 2012

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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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