Environmental drivers of small scale spatial variation in the reproductive schedule of a commercially important bivalve mollusc

Natalie Hold*, Lee G. Murray, Hilmar Hinz, Simon P. Neill, Sarah Lass, Mandy Lo, Michel J. Kaiser

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Understanding variability in reproductive schedules is essential to the management of recruitment limited fisheries such as that of Pecten maximus. Small scale (<5km) variation in gonad condition and the onset of spawning of P.maximus were found among commercial scallop grounds in Isle of Man waters. Environmental and fishing drivers of these spatial patterns were investigated using a generalised additive model. Rate of change in temperature over the month prior to sampling was identified as the short term driver of gonad weight associated with the autumn spawning event. Long term drivers were average annual chlorophyll a concentration, scallop density, stratification index and shell size. The model explained 42.8% of deviance in gonad weight. Within site variation in gonad condition was high, indicating a "bet hedging" reproductive strategy which may decrease the chance of fertilisation especially at low densities. Therefore, areas protected from fishing, where scallop densities can increase may help buffer against reproductive failure. An increase in shell length from 100mm to 110mm equated to an increase of approximately 20% in gonad weight. Protecting scallops from fishing mortality until 110mm (age four) compared to 100mm (age three) may lead to an overall increase in lifetime reproductive output by a factor of 3.4.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)144-153
Number of pages10
JournalMarine Environmental Research
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013


  • Fisheries management
  • Generalised additive model
  • Gonad condition index
  • Irish sea
  • Isle of Man
  • Pecten maximus
  • Reproduction
  • Spatial scale
  • Temperature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Pollution


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