The effects of seasonal processes on size spectrum dynamics


The recent advent of dynamic size spectrum models has allowed the analysis of life processes in marine ecosystems to be carried out without the high complexity arising from interspecies interactions within dense food webs. In this paper, we use “mizer”, a size spectrum modelling framework, to investigate the consequences of including the seasonal processes of plankton blooms and batch spawning in the model dynamics. A multispecies size spectrum model is constructed using 12 common North Sea fish species, with growth, predation, and mortality explicitly modelled, before simulating both seasonal plankton blooms and batch spawning of fish (using empirical data on the spawning patterns of each species). The effect of seasonality on the community size spectrum is investigated; it is found that with seasonal processes included, the species spectra are more varied over time, while the aggregated community spectrum remains fairly similar. Growth of seasonally spawning mature individuals drops significantly during peak reproduction, although lifetime growth curves follow nonseasonal ones closely. On analysing properties of the community spectrum under different fishing scenarios, seasonality generally causes more varied spectrum slopes and lower yields. Under seasonal conditions, increasing fishing effort also results in greater temporal variability of fisheries yields due to truncation of the community spectrum towards smaller sizes. Further work is needed to evaluate robustness of management strategies in the context of a wider range of seasonal processes and behavioural strategies, as well as longer term environmental variability and change.

Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences