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Data from: Marine regime shifts impact synchrony of deep‐sea fish growth in the Northeast Atlantic

Cite this dataset

Tanner, Susanne E. et al. (2020). Data from: Marine regime shifts impact synchrony of deep‐sea fish growth in the Northeast Atlantic [Dataset]. Dryad.


The complexity and spatio–temporal scale of populations’ dynamics influence how populations respond to large-scale ecological pressures. Detecting and attributing synchrony (i.e. temporally coincident fluctuations in populations’ parameters) is key as synchronous populations can become more vulnerable to stochastic events that can affect the viability of harvest and have profound consequences to community structure. Here, we aimed to estimate the level of synchrony in fish growth within and among species across 1 million km2 and identify the environmental drivers contributing to synchronous population fluctuations. We developed otolith increment-based growth chronologies for two deep-sea scorpaenid fishes (Helicolenus dactylopterus and Pontinus kuhlii) from geographically and bathymetrically disjunct populations in the northeast Atlantic (one species in three locations; two species with different depth preferences). We used hierarchical models to partition variation in growth within and between populations attributing it to intrinsic (age, species, population) and extrinsic (environmental variables) drivers. We assessed synchrony in growth variation within and among species and identified common change points in population specific growth patterns. We documented time-variant synchrony in growth variation of geographically and bathymetrically segregated deep-sea fish populations, lasting 25 and 18 years, respectively. The observed synchrony was likely driven by shared environmental forcing (Moran effect) as large-scale climate indices (East Atlantic pattern and North Atlantic Oscillation) were important environmental drivers of overall growth variation while the onset of synchrony in growth variation was likely related to marine regime shifts occurring in a wide area of the northeast Atlantic that affected the entire ecosystem. However, our capacity to extrapolate growth information across species and locations was dependent on the timing and magnitude of environmental change. Developing a better understanding of the mechanisms driving growth synchrony is key to ensure sustainable management of populations in habitats that are fragile and highly sensible to environmental change, such as the deep-sea.