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Otolith chemoscape analysis in whiting links fishing grounds to nursery areas

Burns, Neil M; Hopkins, Charlotte R; Bailey, David M; Wright, Peter J


Neil M Burns

David M Bailey

Peter J Wright


Understanding life stage connectivity is essential to define appropriate spatial scales for fisheries management and develop effective strategies to reduce undersized bycatch. Despite many studies of population structure and connectivity in marine fish, most management units do not reflect biological populations and protection is rarely given to juvenile sources of the fished stock. Direct, quantitative estimates which link specific fishing grounds to the nursery areas which produced the caught fish are essential to meet these objectives. Here we develop a continuous-surface otolith microchemistry approach to geolocate whiting (Merlangius merlangus) and infer life stage connectivity across the west coast of the UK. We show substantial connectivity across existing stock boundaries and identify the importance of the Firth of Clyde nursery area. This approach offers fisheries managers the ability to account for the benefits of improved fishing yields derived from spatial protection while minimising revenue loss.


Burns, N. M., Hopkins, C. R., Bailey, D. M., & Wright, P. J. (in press). Otolith chemoscape analysis in whiting links fishing grounds to nursery areas. Communications Biology, 3, Article 690

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 27, 2020
Online Publication Date Nov 19, 2020
Deposit Date Jan 26, 2021
Publicly Available Date Feb 1, 2021
Journal Communications Biology
Print ISSN 2399-3642
Publisher Nature Research
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 3
Article Number 690
Keywords Animal migration; Conservation biology; Mass spectrometry
Public URL
Publisher URL


Published article (3.6 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© The Author(s) 2020. Open Access. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from
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