U.S. Dept. of Commerce / NOAA / OAR / PMEL / Publications
Using observations from 38 ichthyoplankton surveys conducted near Shelikof Strait, Alaska between 1979 and 1992, we characterized the horizontal distribution and spatial patchiness of the early life stages of walleye pollock (Theragra chalcogramma). Lloyd's index of patchiness ranged from 3.9–6.1 for eggs and 3.9–16.2 for larvae. This index was size (age) dependent: low for eggs, high for newly hatched larvae, then decreasing through late larval stage. By the early juvenile stage, patchiness increased as pollock began to school. The percentage of larvae in a patch (defined as the percentage of larvae present at stations where larval counts exceeded the mean by one standard deviation during the given survey) varied greatly (26–92%). Larval distributions were used to deduce physical mechanisms responsible for patches. Three categories of patches were identified: those created by interaction of larvae with time-dependent currents, those in the vicinity of Sutwik Island, and those associated with eddies. Simulation experiments were utilized to examine processes influencing patch formation and the role of larval swimming. Between 5 and 6 weeks after hatching, larvae have swimming abilities that enable them to maintain a patch already created by physical mechanisms.
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