Using an integral projection model to assess the effect of temperature on the growth of gilthead seabream Sparus aurata


Accurate information on the growth rates of fish is crucial for fisheries stock assessment and management. Empirical life history parameters (von Bertalanffy growth) are widely fitted to cross-sectional size-at-age data sampled from fish populations. This method often assumes that environmental factors affecting growth remain constant over time. The current study utilized longitudinal life history information contained in otoliths from 412 juveniles and adults of gilthead seabream, Sparus aurata, a commercially important species fished and farmed throughout the Mediterranean. Historical annual growth rates over 11 consecutive years (2002–2012) in the Gulf of Lions (NW Mediterranean) were reconstructed to investigate the effect of temperature variations on the annual growth of this fish. S. aurata growth was modelled linearly as the relationship between otolith size at year t against otolith size at the previous year t-1. The effect of temperature on growth was modelled with linear mixed effects models and a simplified linear model to be implemented in a cohort Integral Projection Model (cIPM). The cIPM was used to project S. aurata growth, year to year, under different temperature scenarios. Our results determined current increasing summer temperatures to have a negative effect on S. aurata annual growth in the Gulf of Lions. They suggest that global warming already has and will further have a significant impact on S. aurata size-at-age, with important implications for age-structured stock assessments and reference points used in fisheries.