Marine Biology

, Volume 152, Issue 1, pp 193–200 | Cite as

El Niño periods increase growth of juvenile white seabass (Atractoscion nobilis) in the Southern California Bight

  • Jonathan P. Williams
  • Larry G. Allen
  • Mark A. Steele
  • Daniel J. Pondella II
Research Article


Studies of the impact of El Niño periods on marine species have usually focused on negative, highly visible effects, e.g., decreasing growth rates or increasing mortality due to a decline in primary productivity in typically nutrient rich upwelling zones; but positive effects related to elevated water temperature are also known. This study examined how the growth rate of juvenile white seabass, Atractoscion nobilis, responded to changes in ocean temperature in an El Niño period (1997–1998) in the northern portion of the Southern California Bight, USA. Growth rates of juvenile white seabass during their first 4 years of life were estimated as the slopes of linear relationships between body mass and age (from otoliths) of 800 fish collected at 11 stations throughout the bight. Growth rates differed significantly among cohorts hatched in 1996–2001. Specifically, white seabass that hatched in 1996 and 1997 grew significantly faster than those that hatched in 1998, 1999, and 2001. These differences in growth rates of cohorts appeared to be driven by variation in sea-surface temperature (SST). Growth rates averaged over the first three or 4 years of life were significantly positively correlated to average daily SST during the first 1–4 years of life. Increased growth of juvenile white seabass during the warm El Niño period likely provided a number of benefits to this warm-temperate species. This study demonstrated that some species will benefit from these warm-water periods despite reduced system-wide primary production.


Rocky Reef Jack Mackerel Sagittal Otolith Giant Kelp Southern California Bight 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This manuscript benefited from the comments of R.E. Espinoza, M.P. Franklin, and three anonymous reviewers. This work was conducted by the Nearshore Marine Fish Research Program of California State University, Northridge and the Vantuna Research Group of Occidental College under contract to the Ocean Resources and Enhancement Hatchery Program of the California Department of Fish and Game. Additional funding was provided by the Office of Graduate Studies at California State University, Northridge. We thank J.B. Lindsay of the National Marine Fisheries Service for valuable data and information. We also thank the many graduate and undergraduate students who helped with this work, especially E.F. Miller, J.T. Froeschke, J.R. Cobb, and B.M. Haggin, and we thank the crews of the R.V. Yellowfin and R.V. Vantuna that made this research possible.

Supplementary material

227_2007_673_Fig7_ESM.jpg (336 kb)
ESM 1 (JPG 335 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jonathan P. Williams
    • 1
    • 2
  • Larry G. Allen
    • 1
  • Mark A. Steele
    • 1
  • Daniel J. Pondella II
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of BiologyCalifornia State UniversityNorthridgeUSA
  2. 2.Vantuna Research GroupOccidental CollegeLos AngelesUSA

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