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MEPS prepress abstract   -  DOI:

A macroecological perspective on the fluctuations of exploited fish populations

A. M. Segura, R. Wiff, J. A. Jaureguizar, A. C. Milessi, G. Perera

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ABSTRACT: The natural variability of fish populations is increased by exploitation but debate continues regarding the specific mechanisms driving this variability. We propose a macroscopic approach combining the size-density relationship and Taylor’s law to predict the temporal variance of exploited and unexploited fish populations. Using information from eleven years of fishery-independent abundance surveys, we showed that the body-size dependence of the variance of exploited (targeted) and not exploited (non-targeted or bycatch) fish populations can be accurately predicted. Targeted fish populations showed a variability that was two orders of magnitude larger than that of non-targeted fish populations. Such variability was explained solely by the higher relative abundance of the former, regardless of their specific trophic position while aggregated community fluctuation was smaller in a high trophic position group. This study showed the usefulness of the macroscopic approach to predict fish variability and fishing effect in the whole community. This approach is complementary to other modeling strategies and seems to be useful in tackling the problem of variability in exploited fish fluctuations particularly in cases where specific details of the interacting species are lacking.