Patterns and processes of habitat-specific demographic variability in exploited marine species

R.P. Vasconcelos, D.B. Eggleston, O. le Pape, I.Y.M. Tulp

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31 Citations (Scopus)


Population dynamics are governed by four demographic rates: births, deaths, immigration, and emigration. Variation in these rates and processes underlying such variation can be used to prioritize habitat conservation and restoration as well as to parameterize models that predict habitat-specific effects on population dynamics. The current understanding of patterns of habitat-specific demographic variability in exploited marine species, as well as processes underlying these patterns, was reviewed. We describe patterns of (i) habitat-specific density, followed by ontogenetic changes in habitat use, such as (ii) immigration (i.e. use as a settlement habitat) and (iii) emigration (i.e. use as a habitat for secondary dispersal to and from), and demographic rates such as (iv) growth, and (v) mortality. Despite the importance of coastal habitats for fish and invertebrate species and the vulnerability of these habitats to human impacts, there was ambiguous evidence on their role in driving of population dynamics. Roughly 63% of the studies were descriptive, 21% experimental, and 11% used a combination of descriptive and experimental approaches, whereas 5% used meta-analyses. Habitat-specific density was the most common pattern quantified, followed by growth and mortality, with relatively few examples of studies of habitat-specific larval settlement. There were many examples of the influence of coastal habitats on survival, growth, and movement, especially at young stages, and there was an emerging focus on the effects of habitat degradation on demographic rates. There needs to be an increased effort on quantifying habitat-specific demographic rates and integrating these to better predict the effects of coastal habitats on the dynamics of exploited marine populations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)638-647
Number of pages10
JournalICES Journal of Marine Science
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • sole solea-solea
  • essential fish habitat
  • plaice pleuronectes-platessa
  • nursery grounds
  • concentration hypothesis
  • quantitative description
  • population connectivity
  • relative contributions
  • benthic invertebrates
  • estuarine nurseries

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