Population ecology of turbot and brill: what can we learn from two rare flatfish species?

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Abstract

Turbot and brill are widely distributed in the Northeast Atlantic but occur at low abundance. They are ecologically very similar and closely related. The low abundance and the similarities make them particularly interesting to study the population dynamics because it raises the questions how the populations can sustain themselves at low abundances and how turbot and brill avoid strong interspecific competition. Knowledge of both species is hampered by lack of analysed data. The main objective of this study is therefore to increase the knowledge of turbot and brill and in particular to compare the two species in order to address the above questions. Based on biological samples collected in the North Sea, we calculated seasonal von Bertalanffy growth parameters, maturity ogives, monthly gonado-somatic indices (GSI) and condition factors (Fulton's K) and indices of inter- and intraspecific mean crowding and compared the results for turbot and brill. The main differences between the two species were found in their spawning period, with brill having a more protracted spawning period. Brill also showed an earlier peak in their GSI values, suggesting an earlier start of their spawning period. The mean crowding showed that interspecific competition was lower than intraspecific competition. The exploitation pattern was also studied. Turbot and brill are exploited as a bycatch species in the mixed demersal fishery. We found that productivity is highest in areas where the maximum temperature is close to the optimal temperature for growth (16–18 °C) and landings decrease where salinity falls below ~ 5 psu (turbot) and ~ 15 psu (brill). Recent fishing mortality rates of North Sea turbot are around 0.5–0.7, but there is no indication that recruitment is impaired at low levels of spawning stock biomass. We conclude that although both species have similar ecological characteristics, differences may reduce inter-specific competition
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)96-108
JournalJournal of Sea Research
Volume84
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Keywords

  • scophthalmus-maximus l
  • southern north-sea
  • early-life-history
  • evolving fish stocks
  • sole solea-solea
  • psetta-maxima
  • nursery grounds
  • west-coast
  • juvenile turbot
  • baltic sea

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