Virginia Institute of Marine Science
ICES Journal of Marine Science
Striped bass (Morone saxatilis) are anadromous fish that support an important fishery along the east coast of North America. In Chesapeake Bay, strong juvenile recruitment of striped bass can occur when larvae overlap with high concentrations of their zooplankton prey, but the mechanisms fostering the temporal overlap are unknown. Here, the influence of winter temperature on the peak abundances of a key prey, Eurytemora carolleeae, was estimated with a temperature-dependent developmental model. The role of these peaks in regulating striped bass recruitment was explored in three nursery areas: upper Chesapeake Bay, Choptank River, and Patuxent River. Model results indicated that cold winters delay the timing and increase the size of peak E. carolleeae spring abundance. When the model output was used in regression relationships with striped bass juvenile recruitment and freshwater discharge, the regression models explained up to 78% of annual recruitment variability. Results suggests that cold, wet winters could increase the chance of a match between striped bass larvae and high concentrations of their prey. This mechanistic link between winter temperatures and striped bass production, acting through prey dynamics, could further understanding of fish recruitment variability and indicates that warmer winters could negatively affect some striped bass populations.
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Millette, Nicole C.; Pierson, J. J.; and North, E. W., Water temperature during winter may control striped bass recruitment during spring by affecting the development time of copepod nauplii (2020). ICES Journal of Marine Science, 77(1), 300-314.