Plankton indices explain interannual variability in Prince William Sound herring first year growth
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Plankton indices explain interannual variability in Prince William Sound herring first year growth

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  • Journal Title:
    Fisheries Oceanography
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    This study examines the relationships between first year growth of juvenile Prince William Sound herring, temperature and their food. We present time series of herring first year growth, determined from scale measurements as a proxy for herring length, water temperature and indices of multiple trophic levels of plankton obtained from Continuous Plankton Recorder (CPR) sampling on the adjacent Gulf of Alaska shelf. We show that there was a significant correlation between herring growth and water temperature, when the three warmest years were excluded (the mean July and August temperatures were greater than 12.5°C in 1989, 2004 and 2005). There were also strong, significant relationships between the abundance of appropriately sized (for first‐feeding herring) planktonic prey groups and herring growth. First year herring growth was greater in years with higher abundances of diatoms, microzooplankton and small mesozooplankton but not related to variability in abundance of larger mesozooplankton (such as euphausiids and large copepods). Furthermore, the strong interannual relationship between diatoms and herring growth held true even in the warmest years where the relationship between temperature and growth broke down. We also found seasonal timing and abundance changes in the plankton in warm years that would make the prey more abundant during the summer months immediately after metamorphosis of the herring larvae. We thus conclude that young‐of‐the‐year herring may grow better in warm years because the timing of key prey is a better match for their first feeding.
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    Fisheries Oceanography, 25(4), 420-432
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    Accepted Manuscript
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