Geographic Variation in Life-History Traits of Black Sea Bass (Centropristis striata) During a Rapid Range Expansion
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Geographic Variation in Life-History Traits of Black Sea Bass (Centropristis striata) During a Rapid Range Expansion

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  • Journal Title:
    Frontiers in Marine Science
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    The warming of the world’s oceans has resulted in the redistribution of many marine species globally. As species undergo range shifts, the expanding edge of the population often experiences novel environmental and demographic conditions that may result in the emergence of variation in life-history strategies. The northern stock of black sea bass, Centropristis striata, has recently expanded its distribution poleward, into the Gulf of Maine. Management has struggled to keep pace with this rapid range shift, in part, because very little is known about the expanding population. We compared life-history traits of black sea bass collected from 2013 to 2016 from the northern most point of the historic range of the northern stock (southern Massachusetts) to those from two areas in the newly expanded range (northern Massachusetts and Maine). We found significant differences in size, diet, condition, maturity and sex ratio between black sea bass from southern Massachusetts and the Gulf of Maine. Overall, sea bass in the newly expanded range consumed a less diverse diet and their condition was lower, but they reached maturity at a younger age. We also found greater length- and age-at-maturity estimates from all regions combined compared to the most recent black sea bass stock assessment which includes data from Cape Hatteras, NC to southern Massachusetts. This study represents initial observations of life-history traits of sea bass in its newly expanded range in the Gulf of Maine, and suggests that these sea bass exhibit life-history strategies that differ from their southern counterparts within their historic range. Given these findings, the stock assessment for the Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf black sea bass stock may not be adequate for sea bass in the Gulf of Maine. Studies investigating the expanding edge of economically valuable fishery species are needed to aid in ongoing and future efforts to assess and manage their stocks.
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    Frontiers in Marine Science, 7
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    CC BY
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