Relationships Between Spawning Behavior and Life History Traits in Gulf of Mexico Fishes: Implications for Vulnerability Assessments
AuthorsChristopher R. Biggs;Nicholas A. Farmer;Shinichi Kobara;Derek Bolser;William Heyman;Jan Robinson;Susan K. Lowerre-Barbieri;Brad Erisman Download PDF Open PDF in Browser
Maintaining the resilience of a stock while managing near maximum sustainable yield is the cornerstone of fisheries management. Resilience is often correlated to life history traits, but consideration of reproductive behaviour may provide insight that can help identify species that are particularly vulnerable to fishing during spawning. We synthesized information on the life history and spawning behaviour of 28 fishery species in the Gulf of Mexico through literature review and expert elicitation to determine if life history traits were correlated with aspects of reproductive behaviour. We also used life history traits and spawning behaviour to assess the vulnerability to fishing for each species and compared the vulnerability scores to a productivity susceptibility analysis that did not include reproductive behaviour. Our results show that spawning behaviours are not correlated with life history traits. Principal component analysis separated each group of traits between the first two principal components, which explained 65.0% of the variation. Further, species that have been overfished had significantly higher vulnerability scores than not-overfished species along the spawning behaviour axis, illustrating that traits associated with spawning behaviour represent a distinct aspect of fish ecology that is important to consider for predictions of vulnerability and resilience in exploited stocks. The vulnerability analysis also identified species that aggregate to spawn with large changes in density for short periods of time as the most vulnerable to fishing. This distinction is important, because reproductive behaviour is rarely comprehensively incorporated within stock assessments or the management of exploited fishes in the Gulf of Mexico or elsewhere.