Survival of the fittest: explanations for gadoid imbalance in heavily fished seas

Elliott, S. A.M., Allan, B. A., Turrell, W. R., Heath, M. R. and Bailey, D. M. (2018) Survival of the fittest: explanations for gadoid imbalance in heavily fished seas. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems, 28(5), pp. 1192-1199. (doi:10.1002/aqc.2926)

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Abstract

1. Anthropogenic activities have caused the degradation of the world's ecosystems, accelerating the loss of biodiversity. In marine ecosystems, fishing has had strong impacts on fish populations and their habitats; however, not all species have responded equally to fishing pressure. 2. Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua), haddock (Melanogrammus aeglefinus), and whiting (Merlangius merlangus) are of high commercial value throughout the North Atlantic. Despite having relatively similar life cycles, the state of stocks of these three species varies enormously, with whiting faring better than cod. Within the Firth of Clyde (south‐west Scotland), this imbalance is especially accentuated, where small whiting now make up the greater proportion of the biomass. 3. In this study, cod, haddock, and whiting recruitment to coastal areas, growth, and bait attraction were explored within a marine protected area (MPA) in the Firth of Clyde. Over the course of the summers of 2013 and 2014, whiting and haddock arrived at coastal areas earlier than cod, and grew more quickly. Cod were on average the smallest gadoid observed, and whiting the largest. Whiting also had more predominant scavenging behaviour. 4. These results, in combination with other life‐history traits, indicate that whiting may be at a competitive advantage over cod, and this may partly explain the imbalance of gadoids in the Firth of Clyde. This study highlights the importance of considering life‐history differences in multi‐species fisheries management, and how appropriately managed MPAs could help to restore fish population and assemblage structure.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:The study was funded by Marine Scotland (Clyde 2020), Scottish Natural Heritage, Natural Environment Research Council National Facility for Scientific Diving grant (grant NFSD/13/01), and the ClimateXChange.
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Elliott, Dr Sophie and Allan, Ms Brooke and Bailey, Dr David
Authors: Elliott, S. A.M., Allan, B. A., Turrell, W. R., Heath, M. R., and Bailey, D. M.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Biodiversity Animal Health and Comparative Medicine
Journal Name:Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems
Publisher:Wiley
ISSN:1052-7613
ISSN (Online):1099-0755
Published Online:11 June 2018
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2018 John Wiley and Sons, Ltd.
First Published:First published in Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 28(5): 1192-1199
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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