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Data from: Minimum size limits and the reproductive value of numerous, young, mature female fish


Lavin, Charles; Jones, Geoffrey; Williamson, David; Harrison, Hugo (2021), Data from: Minimum size limits and the reproductive value of numerous, young, mature female fish, Dryad, Dataset,


Fisheries management relies on various catch and effort controls to preserve spawning stock biomass and maximise sustainable yields while limiting fishery impacts on marine ecosystems. These include species-specific minimum or maximum size limits to protect either small non-reproductive sub-adults, a portion of reproductively mature adults, or large highly fecund individuals. Protecting size classes of mature fish is expected to yield a viable source of larvae for replenishing populations and reduce the risk of recruitment overfishing, yet size-specific recruitment contributions have rarely been assessed empirically. Here we apply genetic parentage analysis to measure the reproductive success of a size-structured population of a commercially important species of coral grouper (Plectropomus maculatus - Serranidae) in no-take marine reserves in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, Australia. Although the per-capita reproductive success of individual fish increases rapidly with body-length, the numerous young mature female fish (NYMFFs), below the minimum size limit (38 cm total length), were responsible for generating disproportionately large contributions (36%) towards larval replenishment of both fished and reserve reefs. Our findings indicate that minimum size limits are an effective harvest control measure to safeguard a portion of the spawning stock biomass for coral grouper and supplement recruitment subsidies assured from no-take marine reserves.


Methods and results appear in manuscript

Usage Notes

Required data of sampled adults and offspring-assigned adults from genetic parentage analysis, as well as abundance data of the target species are provided as .csv files. See attached R file ‘fit.distribution.gamma.R’ in order to execute Gamma distribution fit. The script for all analyses and results is included in the R Markdown file.


Australian Research Council, Award: DE160101141

Australian Research Council, Award: DP190103056

Australian Research Council, Award: CE140100020