Tue, 02 Oct 2012
SBC Scientists Discover Clues to the Sustainability of Fish Populations
A 16-year study at Santa Cruz Island allowed SBC scientists to quantify how food availability becomes a critical limiting factor in the health of fish populations. They found that sufficient food can drive up to a 10-fold increase in the per capita birthrate of fish, and adequate food supports survival rates up to 10 times higher than without. Black surfperch (Embiotoca jacksoni) is not fished commercially, which makes it an ideal model species for assessing the the affects of food availability. Fish give birth to live young that rarely leave their natal reef, which allows population and cohorts to be accurately tracked for many years. First author Dan Okamoto, an SBC PhD student, said that not including food availability in calculating benchmarks for species conservation may leave out a critical element in fisheries management. However, there has been a lack of information about how survival and birthrates are influenced by food availability, which is known to fluctuate through time. The team is led by SBC scientists Russ Schmitt and Sally Holbrook, professors at UCSB. The complete story can be found at UCSB Public Affairs webpage.
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