North Sea saithePollachius virensgrowth in relation to food availability, density dependence and temporature
North Sea saithe Pollachius virens, a major top predator in the area, supports the fishery economy of several European countries. However, recent stock assessments suggested a decrease in spawning stock biomass along with a decline in saithe mean weight-at-ages. In this context, we investigated North Sea saithe growth characteristics at the population level. First, saithe annual weight increments and age-length relationships were studied. Modelling of saithe age-length relationships was carried out using (1) the traditional von Bertalanffy growth function model, (2) the Verhulst logistic model and (3) an empirical linear model. Second, the effects of environmental factors on saithe growth were investigated. Explanatory environmental factors included food availability, represented by the total biomass of Norway pout Trisopterus esmarkii; intraspecific competition, i.e. density dependence, represented by saithe abundance; and temperature. This study revealed that the Verhulst logistic model was the best descriptor of saithe growth and that density dependence and food availability had significant effects on the saithe growth coefficient, while no effect of temperature was shown. We suggest that reduced food availability and increased competition may explain the recent decrease in the saithe growth coefficient.
Cormon, Xochitl / Ernande, Bruno / Kempf, Alexander / et al: North Sea saithePollachius virensgrowth in relation to food availability, density dependence and temporature. 2016.
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