Density-dependent variations in body growth and size have important consequences for the population dynamics of stream-dwelling salmonid populations, since body size is related to a variety of ecologically relevant characteristics. These include survival and fecundity, competitive and predatory abilities, and foraging behavior. However, little work has been done to understand how density-dependent body growth varies across temporal and spatial scales and when this compensatory process is relevant for recruitment and population dynamics of stream-dwelling salmonids. Increased intra- or inter-cohort competition reduces growth rates of juveniles. Both within- and among-cohort differences at the juvenile stage are likely to be maintained through the lifetime. Limited movement or dispersal can lead to subdivision of a population into several local populations with independent dynamics. The spatial and temporal variation in movement and the patchy distribution of resources make fish likely to experience density-dependence across location, life-stage, and season. The relaxation of density-dependent suppression of body growth at low densities constitutes a potential mechanism for salmonids to persist in the face of environmental perturbation and may contribute to explaining the peculiar resilience to population collapses often showed by salmonids. The inclusion of density-dependent growth in population models may increase the usefulness of model predictions in management contexts. Models not accounting for density-dependent growth may underestimate the recovery potential of resident salmonid populations when they collapse to low densities.
Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries – Springer Journals
Published: Nov 15, 2011
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