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A fine-scale multi-step approach to understand fish recruitment variability
Brosset, P.; Smith, A.D.; Plourde, S.; Castonguay, M.; Lehoux, C.; Van Beveren, E. (2020). A fine-scale multi-step approach to understand fish recruitment variability. NPG Scientific Reports 10(1): 14 pp.
In: Scientific Reports (Nature Publishing Group). Nature Publishing Group: London. ISSN 2045-2322; e-ISSN 2045-2322, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Brosset, P.
  • Smith, A.D.
  • Plourde, S.
  • Castonguay, M.
  • Lehoux, C.
  • Van Beveren, E., more

    Recruitment is one of the dominant processes regulating fish population productivity. It is, however, notoriously difficult to predict, as it is the result of a complex multi-step process. Various fine-scale drivers might act on the pathway from adult population characteristics to spawning behaviour and egg production, and then to recruitment. Here, we provide a holistic analysis of the Northwest Atlantic mackerel recruitment process from 1982 to 2017 and exemplify why broad-scale recruitment–environment relationships could become unstable over time. Various demographic and environmental drivers had a synergetic effect on recruitment, but larval survival through a spatio-temporal match with prey was shown to be the key process. Recruitment was also mediated by maternal effects and a parent–offspring fitness trade-off due to the different feeding regimes of adults and larvae. A mismatch curtails the effects of high larval prey densities, so that despite the abundance of food in recent years, recruitment was relatively low and the pre-existing relationship with overall prey abundance broke down. Our results reaffirm major recruitment hypotheses and demonstrate the importance of fine-scale processes along the recruitment pathway, helping to improve recruitment predictions and potentially fisheries management.

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