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Understanding Life History and Physiology of Fish

GLOBE - Knowledge of life-history traits is increasingly recognised as an important criterion for effective management and conservation of fish, but a recent paper suggests that understanding the link between physiology and life history can help us understand the problem at a higher level.

Such links have been advocated for avian systems, but now a recent report shows how this concept can be adapted for fish production. The paper -- published in the latest fish and fisheries journal -- highlights the gap in fisheries literature with regard to understanding the relationship between physiology and life history. In response, it proposes ways in which this integration could improve fisheries management and conservation.

"We use three case studies on different fishes (i.e. the Pacific salmon, the grouper complex and tuna) to explore these issues. The physiological structure and function of fish plays a central role in determining stock response to exploitation and changes in the environment", says an abstract from the report.

"Physiological measures can provide simple indicators necessary for cost-effective monitoring in the evaluation of fisheries sustainability. The declining state of world fisheries and the need to develop and implement restoration strategies, such as hatchery production or protected areas, provides strong incentive to better understand the influence of physiology on population and reproductive dynamics and early life history."

Physiology influences key population-level processes, particularly those dealing with reproduction, and the researchers insist this must be incorporated into the design and successful implementation of specific and broadscale initiatives, such as aquatic protected areas and bycatch reduction.

The paper also makes suggestions on how to encourage wider application of the physiology/life-history link, in fisheries management and conservation, as well as more broadly in education and research.

the Fish Site Editor

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