Periodic fluctuations in recruitment success of Atlantic cod

Anna Rindorf*, Noel G. Cadigan, Daniel Howell, Margit Eero, Henrik Gislason

*Corresponding author for this work

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Autocorrelation in recruitment success of fish is frequently reported, but the underlying mechanisms are generally only vaguely alluded to. We analysed recruitment success of cod 21 stocks in the North Atlantic to investigate possible common causes of autocorrelation in recruitment. We found autocorrelation and periodic fluctuations in recruitment success and adult growth in just above half of the stocks considered and investigated six possible underlying mechanisms. With three exceptions, the variations in recruitment success were not significantly related to temperature or growth anomalies, indicating that the variation was not caused by temperature dependent survival or growth dependent spawning products. Further, a link between recruitment and subsequent spawning biomass could not explain the observed recruitment patterns. Slow-growing cod stocks tended to exhibit longer cycles and positive autocorrelations consistent with dilution of predation mortality by adjacent large year classes or age reading errors whereas fast growing cod stocks showed shorter cycles and no significant autocorrelation at lag 1. Both types exhibited significant negative autocorrelations consistent with cannibalism at one or more lags greater than lag 1.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCanadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)236-246
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Atlantic cod
  • Recruitment
  • Periodic fluctuations
  • Autocorrelation
  • Cannibalism
  • growth

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