MEPS 212:233-246 (2001)  -  doi:10.3354/meps212233

Sex-specific temperature distribution in four populations of American plaice Hippoglossoides platessoides

D. P. Swain1,*, M. J. Morgan2

1Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Gulf Fisheries Centre, PO Box 5030, Moncton, New Brunswick E1C 9B6, Canada
2Department of Fisheries and Oceans, PO Box 5667, St. John¹s, Newfoundland A1C 5X1, Canada

ABSTRACT: In the American plaice Hippoglossoides platessoides, the sexes differ in size at age in most populations, with females being larger. Because of the links between growth, ration and temperature, differences in temperature selection might be expected between the sexes in species with dimorphic growth, with the sex with the higher growth rate selecting higher temperatures. Temperature selection has also been predicted to be density-dependent in fishes, with fish occupying colder temperatures at higher levels of abundance. We examined these aspects of temperature selection in 4 populations of American plaice: the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence population and 3 populations off Newfoundland (Labrador and NE Newfoundland, Grand Bank and St. Pierre Bank). Throughout the 1970s and most of the 1980s plaice occupied cold water relative to that available in all of the areas surveyed. In all 4 populations, females tended to occupy warmer water than males. Differences between the sexes in temperature selection and in length at age both tended to be greatest in the southern Gulf population during this period. However, there was no correspondence among populations in these differences in the early 1990s, when distribution of the Grand Bank and St. Pierre Bank populations shifted sharply into warm water and the difference in temperature distribution between the sexes increased dramatically in these populations. These shifts to warmer water may be related to density-dependent effects on temperature preference. There was a strong negative relationship between the temperatures occupied by plaice and their relative abundance in the 3 Newfoundland populations but not in the southern Gulf population. Densities appear to have remained higher in the southern Gulf population than in the Newfoundland populations, suggesting that density-dependent effects on temperature preference only occur when densities fall below some threshold level.

KEY WORDS: Temperature selection · Sexual dimorphism · Density-dependent · Environmental change · Hippoglossoides platessoides · American plaice

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