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Keywords:

  • adaptation;
  • contemporary evolution;
  • fisheries;
  • life history evolution;
  • phenotypic plasticity;
  • probabilistic maturation reaction norms;
  • reproduction

Abstract

Age and length at maturation have declined in many fish populations and this has been hypothesized to be a genetic change caused by high fishing mortality. Probabilistic Maturation Reaction Norms (PMRNs) have been used as a tool to gain a better understanding of the possible genetic nature of these changes. The demographic and direct methods are two ways to calculate PMRNs. The data requirements are more often met for the demographic method than for the direct method which requires the identification of recruit spawners. However, the demographic method relies on more assumptions than the direct method, typically assuming equality of growth and mortality rates for immature and mature individuals within an age class. This study provides the first direct comparison of demographic and direct methods and shows that both methods produce comparable results. Differences between methods are hypothesized to be owed to possible differences in growth rate between mature and immature individuals in Flemish Cap cod.