Evidence for harvest-induced maternal influences on the reproductive rates of fish populations

Paul A. Venturelli, Brian J. Shuter, Cheryl A. Murphy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

101 Scopus citations


Knowledge of the relationship between the number of offspring produced (recruitment) and adult abundance is fundamental to forecasting the dynamics of an exploited population. Although small-scale experiments have documented the importance of maternal quality to offspring survival in plants and animals, the effects of this association on the recruitment dynamics of exploited populations are largely unknown. Here, we present results from both a simple population model and a meta-analysis of time-series data from 25 species of exploited marine fishes that suggest that a population of older, larger individuals has a higher maximum reproductive rate than an equivalent population of younger, smaller individuals, and that this difference increases with the reproductive lifespan of the population. These findings (i) establish an empirical link between population age structure and reproductive rate that is consistent with strong effects of maternal quality on population dynamics and (ii) provide further evidence that extended age structure is essential to the sustainability of many exploited fish stocks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)919-924
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1658
StatePublished - Mar 7 2012


  • Fisheries-induced demographic shift
  • Maternal effects
  • Population dynamics
  • Relative fecundity
  • Reproductive rate
  • Stock recruitment


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