Pre-settlement processes of northern rock sole (Lepidopsetta polyxystra) in relation to interannual variability in the Gulf of Alaska Public Deposited

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  • Understanding the effects of climate variability on growth dynamics and timing of early life history events in marine fishes can provide insights into survival, recruitment and productivity. We examined interannual variation in indicators of larval growth rates, size at hatch and metamorphosis, and the timing of metamorphosis of northern rock sole (Lepidopsetta polyxystra) over 5 years in two nurseries at Kodiak Island, Alaska, USA. Variation in early life characteristics was quantified using laboratory-validated otolith structural analysis and related to water temperature and spring bloom dynamics in the Gulf of Alaska. Overall, results indicated that temperature contributed more to interannual variation in northern rock sole growth, size and phenology patterns than phytoplankton dynamics. Size at hatch was positively related to winter-spring spawning temperatures. Larval growth metrics were generally consistent with thermal effects as temperatures above 4°C appear necessary, but are not sufficient to support rapid growth. Reflecting the cumulative effects of temperature, the timing of metamorphosis was related to both seasonal and interannual variation in temperature with earlier dates of metamorphosis in warmer years. Conversely, fish size at metamorphosis was similar across years, suggesting that the competency to metamorphose is related to attainment of a minimum size. These results demonstrate the important role of temperature in regulating early life history phenology of northern rock sole and suggest that temperature-driven phenological shifts may also influence the time of spawning and hatching.
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  • Fedewa, E. J., Miller, J. A., & Hurst, T. P. (2016). Pre-settlement processes of northern rock sole (Lepidopsetta polyxystra) in relation to interannual variability in the Gulf of Alaska. Journal of Sea Research, 111, 25-36. doi:10.1016/j.seares.2015.11.008
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