Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries

, Volume 23, Issue 2, pp 135–155 | Cite as

Life in 3-D: life history strategies in tunas, mackerels and bonitos

  • Maria José Juan-JordáEmail author
  • Iago Mosqueira
  • Juan Freire
  • Nicholas K. Dulvy


The scombrids (tunas, bonitos, Spanish mackerels and mackerels) sustain some of the most important fisheries in the world and their sustainable management depends on better understanding of their life history strategies. Here, we first assemble life history information on maximum size, growth, longevity, maturity, fecundity and spawning duration and interval for all scombrid species. Second we characterize their life history patterns and trait co-variation and evaluate how many principal axes of trait variation underlie scombrid life history strategies. Most of their life history variation can be explained along three axes or dimensions: size, speed, and reproductive schedule. Body size governs the first axis ranking species along a small-large continuum. The second axis was mostly influenced by time-related traits, such as longevity, growth rates, spawning duration, time between spawning events, ranking species along a slow-fast continuum of life histories. Scombrid species with the slowest life histories such as Atlantic bluefin tuna Thunnus thynnus and Atlantic mackerel Scomber scombrus tend to inhabit more temperate waters while species with faster life histories such as yellowfin tuna Thunnus albacares and short mackerel Rastrelliger brachysoma are typically found in more tropical waters. The third axis comprises the negative relationship between number of eggs produced at length of maturity and rate in gain of fecundity with size describing the schedule of reproductive allocation which reflects a fundamental trade-off between reproduction and growth. Finally, in addition we show that the life history strategies of scombrids conform more closely to the Periodic and Opportunistic strategists within the triangular model of fish life histories.


Sexual dimorphism Life history trade-offs Mortality Data-poor species Data-poor methods Conservation Mammals Life history data set 



We gratefully acknowledge the constructive comments and suggestions from the Earth to Ocean Research Group, particularly Jennifer Sunday and Sebastian Pardo, on earlier versions of this manuscript. We are also grateful to two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments and suggestions. MJJJ was supported in part by EU Marie Curie Early Stage Research Training project METAOCEANS, MEST-CT-2005-019678 and a Maria Barbeito Scholarship from Xunta de Galicia, Spain. NKD was supported by the Natural Environment Research Council of Canada.

Supplementary material

11160_2012_9284_MOESM1_ESM.doc (32 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 32 kb)
11160_2012_9284_MOESM2_ESM.doc (94 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (DOC 95 kb)
11160_2012_9284_MOESM3_ESM.tiff (44.1 mb)
Figure S1 Relationship between maximum observed length (L max ) and the theoretical maximum length (L ) (a-b) and the relationship between empirical longevities (T max ) and theoretical longevity (T ) across scombrid species (c-d). Fitted lines (grey solid ablines) with 95 % confidence intervals (grey dashed ablines) were estimated using a reduced major axis regression model. 1:1 line (black solid ablines). Each point of figure a and c is an observation extracted from life history studies. Each point of figure b and d represents a species average. Supplementary material 3 (TIFF 45161 kb)
11160_2012_9284_MOESM4_ESM.doc (215 kb)
Supplementary material 4 (DOC 215 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maria José Juan-Jordá
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Iago Mosqueira
    • 4
  • Juan Freire
    • 5
  • Nicholas K. Dulvy
    • 2
  1. 1.Grupo de Recursos Marinos y Pesquerías, Facultad de CienciasUniversidad de A CoruñaA CoruñaSpain
  2. 2.Earth to Ocean Research Group, Department of Biological SciencesSimon Fraser UniversityBurnabyCanada
  3. 3.AZTI-Tecnalia, Herrera KaiaPasaiaSpain
  4. 4.European Commission, Joint Research Center, IPSC/Maritime Affairs Unit, FISHREGIspraItaly
  5. 5.Barrabés NextMadridSpain

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