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Environmental variability controls recruitment but with different drivers among spawning components in Gulf of St. Lawrence herring stocks

Abstract : The factors affecting herring recruitment are still poorly understood, complicating the prediction of stock dynamics and the choice of operational management strategies. We investigated effects of intrinsic (SSB) and extrinsic factors (physical and biological environments, including competition and predation) on recruitment of the spring and fall spawning components of each of the two herring stocks occurring in the Gulf of the St. Lawrence between 1971 and 2014. Effects of potential explanatory factors on recruit (age 2) abundance were tested using Generalized Additive Models. Model fit was significantly improved by incorporating both physical and biological environmental variability, but effects of herring SSB and predation were not significant. Indices of zooplankton abundance and phenology explained more variance in recruitment than physical indices. Our results emphasize the dominance of bottom-up processes over SSB in the regulation of herring recruitment. Environmental variability did not seem to act uniformly on the recruitment of either stock or their respective spawning components. A long-term trend of decreasing recruitment in spring spawners was associated with a long-term decline in abundance of cold water copepods. In fall spawners, optimal recruitment was dependent on warmer environmental conditions combined with an adequate supply (species composition and phenology) of zooplankton. These results provide the first empirical evidence that spring and fall spawning herring are adapted to contrasting environmental conditions and shed light on the potential mechanisms linking herring recruitment to key zooplankton community characteristics and phenology. Management strategies can be improved by incorporating this new knowledge on environmental drivers of herring recruitment.
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Submitted on : Friday, March 18, 2022 - 9:58:04 AM
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Pablo Brosset, Thomas Doniol‐valcroze, Douglas Swain, Caroline Lehoux, Elisabeth van Beveren, et al.. Environmental variability controls recruitment but with different drivers among spawning components in Gulf of St. Lawrence herring stocks. Fisheries Oceanography, Wiley, 2019, 28 (1), pp.1-17. ⟨10.1111/fog.12272⟩. ⟨hal-03612855⟩



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