Journal Article

Maturation of Newfoundland American plaice (<i>Hippoglossoides platessoides</i>): long-term trends in maturation reaction norms despite low fishing mortality?

S. Barot, M. Heino, M.J. Morgan and U. Dieckmann

in ICES Journal of Marine Science

Published on behalf of ICES/CIEM

Volume 62, issue 1, pages 56-64
Published in print January 2005 | ISSN: 1054-3139
Published online January 2005 | e-ISSN: 1095-9289 | DOI:
Maturation of Newfoundland American plaice (Hippoglossoides platessoides): long-term trends in maturation reaction norms despite low fishing mortality?

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  • Environmental Science
  • Marine and Estuarine Biology


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To interpret long-term trends in age and size at maturation, new statistical methods have recently been devised for estimating probabilistic maturation reaction norms based on data collected for the management of fisheries. Here we apply these methods to three Newfoundland stocks of American plaice (NAFO Divisions 2J3K, 3LNO, 3Ps) and report a clear long-term shift in the maturation reaction norms of these stocks towards maturation at younger age and smaller size. Theory predicts that such trends could result from fishing acting as a selective force, inducing evolutionary changes in the life histories of exploited populations. Matching long-term trends in maturation reactions norms have already been documented for several stocks that have experienced high fishing pressures (Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank cod, Northeast Arctic cod, North Sea plaice). Our results add a new dimension to these earlier findings: since fishing pressures for two stocks of Newfoundland plaice (2J3K and 3Ps) have been relatively low, our results imply that fishing is likely to result in the evolution of life histories even when fishing mortality is low, or that natural mortality has played an important role in determining selective pressures in these populations. Both options suggest that conditions for rapid life-history evolution in exploited stocks are less restrictive than previously appreciated.

Keywords: American plaice; logistic regression; maturation dynamics; maturity ogive; probability of maturing; reaction norm

Journal Article.  4478 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Environmental Science ; Marine and Estuarine Biology

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