Size, growth, development, and survival of the planktonic larvae of Pomatomus saltatrix (Pisces: Pomatomidae)

Jonathan A. Hare, Robert K. Cowen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

183 Scopus citations


A variety of hypotheses have been proposed regarding the processes that regulate survival of the planktonic life history stages of marine organisms. Several of these hypotheses have been grouped under a general, 'growth-mortality' hypothesis, which postulates that larger (a 'bigger-is-better' mechanism), faster growing (a 'growth-rate' mechanism), and faster developing (a 'stage-duration' mechanism) individuals have a higher probability of survival. Using the otolith record of age, size, and ontogeny, these three mechanisms of the 'growth-mortality' hypothesis were tested for the larval and pelagic juvenile stages of bluefish, Pomatomus saltatrix (Pisces: Pomatomidae), a moderatesized, coastal, pelagic, marine fish. Individuals that were larger-at-age were found to have a higher probability of survival, supporting the 'bigger-is-better' mechanism. Faster growing individuals were also found to have a higher probability of survival, agreeing with the prediction of the 'growth-rate' mechanism. Equivocal evidence was found with regard to the 'stage-duration' mechanism. These results suggest that in pelagic ecosystems, larger and faster growing larvae have a higher probability of survival. Given the observed directional selection acting on larval size and growth, several potential mechanisms that maintain variable larval size and growth are addressed. Finally, the growth-related processes examined in this study are discussed in the context of the physical aspects of pelagic ecosystems that may also affect larval survival.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2415-2431
Number of pages17
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 1 1997



  • Bluefish
  • Body size
  • Development rate
  • Growth rate
  • Larval ecology
  • Marine ecosystems
  • Phenotypic selection
  • Planktonic survival
  • Pomatomus saltatrix
  • Population biology
  • Recruitment
  • Selective mortality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology

Cite this