Journal Article

The influence of ontogeny, physiology, and behaviour on the target strength of walleye pollock (<i>Theragra chalcogramma</i>)

John K Horne

in ICES Journal of Marine Science

Published on behalf of ICES/CIEM

Volume 60, issue 5, pages 1063-1074
Published in print January 2003 | ISSN: 1054-3139
Published online January 2003 | e-ISSN: 1095-9289 | DOI:
The influence of ontogeny, physiology, and behaviour on the target strength of walleye pollock (Theragra chalcogramma)

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  • Environmental Science
  • Marine and Estuarine Biology


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Variability in echo intensities from aquatic organisms is caused by physical factors associated with the transmission of sound through water, and by biological factors associated with the ontogeny, physiology, and behaviour of targets. Acoustic-based density estimates depend on accurately characterizing reflected or backscattered sound from any species of interest. Digitized lateral and dorsal radiographs of walleye pollock (Theragra chalcogramma) were used to characterize intra-specific variability among young-of-the-year, juvenile, and adult life-history stages. Kirchhoff-ray mode (KRM) models were used to quantify variability in backscatter intensities at 38 and 120 kHz. At these geometric scattering frequencies, swimbladder surface areas influence echo intensities. Dorsal swimbladder surface areas were proportionate to fish lengths and decreased after fish were fed. Corresponding changes in backscatter were not proportionate to the reduction in dorsal surface area. The ratio of dorsal to lateral swimbladder surface areas was consistent among gravid and non-gravid fish. Walleye pollock tilt angles were centred at 90° and did not differ among densities or between light and dark cycles. Target strength–length regressions and KRM-predicted backscatter models closely matched in situ target-strength measurements for walleye pollock in the Bering Sea. Backscatter variability can be minimized through judicious deployment of equipment and equipment-parameter settings, but the relative influence of biological factors on backscatter amplitude has not been determined.

Keywords: acoustics; behaviour; ontogeny; physiology; target strength; walleye pollock

Journal Article.  6386 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Environmental Science ; Marine and Estuarine Biology

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