The influence of rainfall on recruitment success and commercial catch for the large sciaenid, Argyrosomus japonicus, in eastern Australia.

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Journal Article
Marine Environmental Research, 2020, 157, pp. 104924-104924
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Freshwater flows into estuaries influence fish populations through effects on recruitment, growth and mortality. We compared year class strength of a large sciaenid Argyrosomus japonicus with rainfall through a 16-year period in southeastern Australia, to understand the influence of freshwater input on this estuary-dependent and depleted population. Relative year class strength, estimated by back-calculating age composition data from commercial fishery landings, was positively related to rainfall within estuarine catchments (R2 = 52%). Commercial estuarine landings from a separate 29-year dataset were positively related to rainfall two and three years earlier (R2 = 21% and 44%, respectively). Year class strength of a key prey species, the penaeid prawn Metapenaeus macleayi, was also related to year class strength of A. japonicus (R2 = 39%), suggesting that rainfall influences recruitment of A. japonicus by affecting food availability. Several years of above average rainfall may be required to promote recruitment substantial enough to rebuild the population.
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