MEPS 349:81-88 (2007)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps07124

Environmental influences on the relationship between juvenile and larval growth of Atlantic croaker Micropogonias undulatus

Steven P. Searcy1,2,*, David B. Eggleston2, Jonathan A. Hare3,4

1Department of Marine, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina 27695-8208, USA
2School for Marine Science & Technology, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, 838 South Rodney French Boulevard, New Bedford, Massachusetts 02744-1221, USA
3NOAA, National Ocean Service, National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, Center for Coastal Fisheries and Habitat Research, 101 Pivers Island Road, Beaufort, North Carolina 28516-9722, USA
4Present address: NOAA, National Marine Fisheries Service, Northeast Fisheries Science Center, Narragansett Laboratory, 28 Tarzwell Drive, Narragansett, Rhode Island 02882-1199, USA
*Present address: New Bedford, MA. Email:

ABSTRACT: For marine organisms with bipartite life cycles, there is growing recognition that juvenile traits may be dependent on previous larval history. The potential correlation between juvenile and larval stages is important to recognize, as growth rates in juvenile fish have been proposed to be an indicator of habitat quality. We investigated whether juvenile and larval growth are positively or negatively related using the estuarine-dependent fish Atlantic croaker Micropogonias undulatus as a model species. The relationship between juvenile and larval growth was examined using both a laboratory study, in which fish were held in individual containers with constant water temperature and salinity, and replicated field experiments, which spanned a range of environmental conditions. There was no relationship between juvenile and larval growth rates in the laboratory experiment. However, results from the field study suggest that a positive relationship between juvenile and larval growth was associated with high levels of freshwater runoff that displaced juvenile croaker from nursery areas to downstream habitats, in which they had reduced feeding success. Variability in the correlation between juvenile and larval growth for the 27 cohorts examined (fish hatched during the same 1 wk period) was independently explained by change in salinity (a proxy for freshwater runoff) and feeding ability (percentage of fish with empty stomachs). Future research should recognize the role that variable environments play in our ability to detect the relationship of life-history traits between ontogenetic stages.


KEY WORDS: Larval growth · Juvenile growth · Atlantic croaker · Freshwater runoff · Habitat quality


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Cite this article as: Searcy SP, Eggleston DB, Hare JA (2007) Environmental influences on the relationship between juvenile and larval growth of Atlantic croaker Micropogonias undulatus. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 349:81-88. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps07124

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