European plaice (Pleuronectes platessa) is a commercially important flatfish species in the North Sea. Yet, the environmental factors that affect the growth of plaice remain unresolved. Here we examine the drivers of plaice growth variation by using a large archive of otoliths from female plaice collected in the northeastern part of the North Sea from 1993 to 2015, providing growth data over the period 1985-2014. We developed a series of increasingly complex mixed-effect models to explore intrinsic (within individual) and extrinsic (environmental factors: bottom temperature and plaice density) sources of growth variation. We analysed juvenile (0 and 1 year) and (sub)adult (≥2 years) growth separately due to different habitat utilization across life stages. Juvenile growth was positively correlated with bottom temperature, whereas growth of adults was negatively correlated with bottom temperature. Correlations for both were strongest during autumn (September to October). For juveniles, the temperature-growth relationship likely reflects a response to growing season length while for adults it could reflect temperature-dependent changes to metabolic rate or food availability. For both juveniles and adults, we also found inverse relationship between population density and growth. We suggest that the approach used in this study can find a much wider application in European waters.
- North Sea
- Pleuronectes platessa
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Aquatic Science