Coexistence in North Sea fish communities: implications for growth and natural mortality

H. Gislason, J.G. Pope, J.C. Rice, N. Daan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


For a fish community to persist over time, all species must be able on average to replace themselves on a one-for-one basis over their lifetime. We use this principle and a size-based equilibrium model where asymptotic length is used as a functional trait to investigate how natural mortality should scale with size within and across pelagic and demersal species of North Sea teleosts. The model predicts natural mortality to scale with body length raised to a power of ¿1.66 at current levels of exploitation. Additionally, natural mortality of demersal species should be proportional to asymptotic length raised to a power of 0.80, so generating a higher natural mortality at a given length for large species than for small ones. The model also suggests that the exponent in the scaling of the von Bertalanffy growth parameter K with asymptotic length should be more negative for pelagic than for demersal species. We test our results by analysing independent estimates of predation mortality, the scaling of maximum recruitment per unit of spawning-stock biomass with asymptotic length, and the general relationship between K and asymptotic length for demersal and pelagic families of fish. All tests are consistent with our modelling results.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)514-530
JournalICES Journal of Marine Science
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • cod gadus-morhua
  • life-history
  • marine fishes
  • trade-off
  • environmental-temperature
  • teleost fishes
  • west-coast
  • population
  • predation
  • biology

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