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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 565:149-162 (2017)  -  DOI:

Importance of the spring transition in the northern Gulf of Mexico as inferred from marine fish biochronologies

Matthew P. Dzaugis1, Robert J. Allman2, Bryan A. Black1,*

1Marine Science Institute, University of Texas at Austin, Port Aransas, TX 78373, USA
2NOAA, Southeast Fisheries Science Center, Panama City, FL 32408, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Linkages between climate variability and the productivity and functioning of Gulf of Mexico marine ecosystems remain poorly described, largely due to a lack of time series sufficiently long to establish robust bio-physical relationships. To address this issue, multidecadal biochronologies were generated from otolith growth-increment widths of red snapper Lutjanus campechanus, gray snapper L. griseus, black drum Pogonia cromis, and king mackerel Scomberomorus cavalla in the Gulf of Mexico. Synchronous growth patterns were evident among red snapper, gray snapper, and black drum, which all significantly (p < 0.05) correlated to one other, but not with king mackerel. Positive growth anomalies in the snapper and drum chronologies were associated with anomalously warm sea surface temperatures, southeast wind stress, and high sea level pressure in the western Atlantic during the early spring months, suggesting that an early transition from a winter to a summer climate pattern is favorable for growth. In contrast, the king mackerel chronology was dominated by decadal-scale patterns and significantly (p < 0.01) and negatively correlated to the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation. Overall, these results show the importance of the spring transition for resident species in the northern Gulf of Mexico, that growth among individuals in a migratory species can be synchronous, and that differences in life history and geography are reflected in climate-biology relationships.

KEY WORDS: Otolith · Growth · Chronology · Gulf of Mexico · Climate variation · Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation · Fisheries

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Cite this article as: Dzaugis MP, Allman RJ, Black BA (2017) Importance of the spring transition in the northern Gulf of Mexico as inferred from marine fish biochronologies. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 565:149-162.

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