The importance of spawning behavior in understanding the vulnerability of exploited marine fishes in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico

Biggs, Christopher R., Heyman, William D., Farmer, Nicholas A., Kobara, Shin’ichi, Bolser, Derek G., Robinson, Jan, Lowerre-Barbieri, Susan K., and Erisman, Brad E. (2021) The importance of spawning behavior in understanding the vulnerability of exploited marine fishes in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. PeerJ, 9. e11814.

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The vulnerability of a fish stock to becoming overfished is dependent upon biological traits that influence productivity and external factors that determine susceptibility or exposure to fishing effort. While a suite of life history traits are traditionally incorporated into management efforts due to their direct association with vulnerability to overfishing, spawning behavioral traits are seldom considered. We synthesized the existing biological and fisheries information of 28 fish stocks in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico to investigate relationships between life history traits, spawning behavioral traits, management regulations, and vulnerability to fishing during the spawning season. Our results showed that spawning behavioral traits were not correlated with life history traits but improved identification of species that have been historically overfished. Species varied widely in their intrinsic vulnerability to fishing during spawning in association with a broad range of behavioral strategies. Extrinsic vulnerability was high for nearly all species due to exposure to fishing during the spawning season and few management measures in place to protect spawning fish. Similarly, several species with the highest vulnerability scores were historically overfished in association with spawning aggregations. The most vulnerable species included several stocks that have not been assessed and should be prioritized for further research and monitoring. Collectively, the results of this study illustrate that spawning behavior is a distinct aspect of fish ecology that is important to consider for predictions of vulnerability and resilience to fisheries exploitation.

Item ID: 70257
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2167-8359
Keywords: Fisheries management, Gulf of Mexico, Life history, Marine conservation, Marine fisheries, Reef fishes, Reproductive resilience, Spawning aggregations, Spawning behavior, Vulnerability
Copyright Information: CC. Published under Open Access.
Date Deposited: 27 Apr 2022 00:46
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