Reaction norms for age and size at maturation: Study of the long-term trend (1970-1998) for Georges Bank and Gulf of Maine cod stocks

Barot, S., Heino, M. ORCID:, O'Brien, L., & Dieckmann, U. ORCID: (2002). Reaction norms for age and size at maturation: Study of the long-term trend (1970-1998) for Georges Bank and Gulf of Maine cod stocks. In: ICES CM Documents 2002 - ICES Annual Science Conference, 1-5 October 2002.

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Average age and size at maturation have decreased in many commercially exploited fish stocks during the last decades. This phenomenon could be either a direct phenotypic response to some environmental variation, or the evolutionary consequence of some selective pressure. Traditionally used maturation indices, i.e., the age and size at which 50% of individuals are mature, are not appropriate to assess the causes of changes in maturation because they are influenced, in addition to maturation per se, by growth and survival. To make up for this shortcoming, we use a reaction norm based approach to disentangle evolutionary changes and phenotypic plasticity. A method is presented to estimate the reaction norm for age and size at maturation from data commonly gathered for the maturation of fisheries. This method is applied to data on Georges Bank Gulf of Maine stocks of Atlantic cod ("Gadus morhua"). The results show that maturation reaction norms in these stocks have shifted significantly downwards, resulting in a tendency to mature earlier at smaller size. These findings support the hypothesis that an evolutionary trend, probably caused by high fishing mortalities, is partially responsible for the observed decrease in age and size at maturation in these cod stocks. Two independent reasons justify this interpretation. First, there is no corresponding trend in growth that would suggest that improved feeding conditions could have facilitated maturation. Second, the results are based on maturation reaction norms, from which the known confounding effects of the growth and mortality variations are removed. Consequences of fisheries-induced evolution for the sustainability of the fisheries are discussed.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (UNSPECIFIED)
Research Programs: Adaptive Dynamics Network (ADN)
Bibliographic Reference: In:; ICES CM Documents 2002 - ICES Annual Science Conference; 1-5 October 2002, Copenhagen, Denmark
Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 02:14
Last Modified: 20 Mar 2020 11:38

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