Leslie matrices and life tables are demographic models commonly used to evaluate the ability of specific elasmobranch life history strategies to sustain given levels and patterns of fishing pressure. These models are generally density independent and provide an instantaneous rate of population growth for a specified set of life history traits that correspond to a specific population size. Many investigators are using these models to compute rates of population growth that they claim are estimates of the maximum population growth rate (rintrinsic); they then use these estimates to compute purported estimates of maximum sustainable fishing mortality. However, neither a Leslie matrix nor a life table can be used to estimate rintrinsic without additional information, except in the special case where a severely depleted population is modeled. Only in a severely depleted population will competition for resources be at a minimum and both density-dependent compensation and the rate of population growth be at a maximum (i.e., rintrinsic). The fundamental problem is to determine the life history parameters that would occur if the population were extremely depleted because extensive observations on extremely depleted populations are rare. In the absence of such data, r intrinsic can only be estimated from these types of density-independent models by extrapolating observed population growth rates toward zero population size. We illustrate the problems in, and describe methods for, estimating rintrinsic and present information on two species of elasmobranch: barndoor skate Dipturus laevis and lemon shark Negaprion brevirostris.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Aquatic Science
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law