Population effects and changes in life history traits in relation to phase transitions induced by long-term fishery harvesting: European hake (Merluccius merluccius) off the Balearic Islands
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AuthorsHidalgo, M. (Manuel); Massutí, E. (Enric); Guijarro, B. (Beatriz); Moranta, J. (Joan); Ciannelli, L. (Lorenzo); Lloret, J. (Josep); Oliver, P. (Pere); Stenseth, N.C. (Nils Christian)
In 1980 and 1995, the European hake (Merluccius merluccius) population off the Balearic Islands (northwestern Mediterranean) underwent changes at both the individual level and the population level. There was a sharp decrease in abundance that coincided with a change in the seasonal catch-per-unit-effort pattern in 1980. A new population scenario emerged after 1980 characterized by an increase in the intrinsic growth rate and a decrease in carrying capacity; however, catchability remained the same. An age-structure truncation could have caused these changes, making the population more dependent on year-to-year recruitment. A change in size structure also occurred in 1995, which was evidenced by a sudden decrease in the mean length-at-age (L) and abundance of recruits and a change in the density-dependent effect on recruits. As the Mediterranean trawl fishery mainly harvests recruits and juveniles and fishery harvesting induces adaptive changes in life history traits, the sharp decrease ...