Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract Age/shell length data for offshore surfclam, Spisula solidissima (Dillwyn, 1817), populations were used to estimate the parameters of the von Bertalanffy growth model by time period and region, from Georges Bank in the north to the Delmarva Peninsula in the south. Randomization tests were used to compare curves. We tested the a priori hypothesis that growth curves would change over time in the “south” (i.e., New Jersey and Delmarva) but remain constant in the “north” (i.e., Long Island and South New England). This hypothesis was proposed because surfclam population structure in the “south” had been altered by the hypoxic event of 1976, and possibly by intense, long-term commercial harvesting. Northern regions, unaffected by these factors, served as natural controls. Based on a comparison of data collected in 1980 with pooled data from 1989 and 1992, the hypothesis was supported. Both the growth coefficient (k) and maximum shell length (L ∞) declined between two time periods in the two “southern” regions, while during the same time interval, no change occurred in the two “northern” regions. Differences in growth between regions were often statistically significant. For example, compared with the “southern” regions, the growth coefficient on Georges Bank was larger, and those clams attained a smaller maximum length. In a comparison of adjacent regions from Delmarva to S. New England, k increased from south to north. This could imply faster growth in cooler water, as well as no relationship between growth and primary productivity. Alternatively, size-selective mortality, imposed by the commercial fishery, was discussed as a mechanism that might account for this unexpected pattern.
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