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A life-table metamodel to support the management of data deficient species, exemplified in sturgeons and shads

Abstract

Population models in fish represent one of the major scientific approaches to identify and bridge existing gaps in the understanding of the ecology and life history, as well as to support management. In general, the more complex the models get, the more they are restricted to a case-by-case basis for particular, well-studied species, because demographic data required for detailed models are unavailable for the majority of species. In the present study, we propose a simple life-table metamodel, which facilitates population and fishery assessments across entire groups of fish. The general approach is described and its application is demonstrated on two groups of fish, which reflect extremes in their life cycle: sturgeons (order Acipenseriformes) and shads (genus Alosa). The approach allows to determine fishing mortality thresholds across different life history types, and to analyze their general population elasticity. Its application is suggested for rapid assessments across large, species-rich groups of fish. The method also allows utilizing life history data from well-studied species to infer fishing mortality thresholds for other, poorly studied species within the same group. Comparisons of the model output with results from other population models indicated a good congruity.

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Acknowledgments

The authors acknowledge the sponsorship provided by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and the Federal German Ministry for Education and Research, as well as the support by the Project No. 173045, funded by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia. The authors would like to thank anonymous referees for providing helpful comments and suggestions that substantially improved the quality of the paper.

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Jarić, I., Gessner, J. & Lenhardt, M. A life-table metamodel to support the management of data deficient species, exemplified in sturgeons and shads. Environ Biol Fish 98, 2337–2352 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10641-015-0439-8

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Keywords

  • Acipenser
  • Alosa
  • Fishery
  • MSY
  • Eggs-per-recruit