Importance of the spring transition in the northern Gulf of Mexico as inferred from marine fish biochronologies

Matthew P. Dzaugis, Robert J. Allman, Bryan A. Black

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Linkages between climate variability and the productivity and functioning of Gulf of Mexico marine ecosystems remain poorly described, largely due to a lack of time series sufficiently long to establish robust bio-physical relationships. To address this issue, multidecadal biochronologies were generated from otolith growth-increment widths of red snapper Lutjanus campechanus, gray snapper L. griseus, black drum Pogonia cromis, and king mackerel Scomberomorus cavalla in the Gulf of Mexico. Synchronous growth patterns were evident among red snapper, gray snapper, and black drum, which all significantly (p < 0.05) correlated to one other, but not with king mackerel. Positive growth anomalies in the snapper and drum chronologies were associated with anomalously warm sea surface temperatures, southeast wind stress, and high sea level pressure in the western Atlantic during the early spring months, suggesting that an early transition from a winter to a summer climate pattern is favorable for growth. In contrast, the king mackerel chronology was dominated by decadal-scale patterns and significantly (p < 0.01) and negatively correlated to the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation. Overall, these results show the importance of the spring transition for resident species in the northern Gulf of Mexico, that growth among individuals in a migratory species can be synchronous, and that differences in life history and geography are reflected in climate?biology relationships.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)149-162
Number of pages14
JournalMarine Ecology Progress Series
StatePublished - Feb 17 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation
  • Chronology
  • Climate variation
  • Fisheries
  • Growth
  • Gulf of Mexico
  • Otolith

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology


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