Library Open Repository

Growth of abalone (Haliotis rubra) with implications for its productivity


Downloads per month over past year

Helidoniotis, F (2011) Growth of abalone (Haliotis rubra) with implications for its productivity. PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

[img] PDF (Whole thesis)
Fay_thesis-.pdf | Download (2MB)
Available under University of Tasmania Standard License.


The use of an incorrect growth model in fisheries management may lead to inaccurate
predictions about stock productivity. In Australia, three non-nested size-based growth
models are generally used to describe the growth of abalone populations: the von
Bertalanffy, Gompertz and inverse logistic. The models differ in their description of
growth, especially in the juvenile phase. However, while data on juveniles has the greatest
discriminating power between models, in reality good data on size distributions and growth
of juveniles is uncommon, and this leads to ambiguity in model selection.
I use a large dataset (from the Tasmanian Aquaculture and Fisheries Institute) describing
sizes and growth of juvenile and adult size classes to systematically resolve model
ambiguity for blacklip abalone (Haliotis rubra) populations in Tasmania. Modal progression
analysis of bimonthly data collected over two years from the same site identified two
cohorts of juveniles between 10 – 75 mm shell lengths. The best statistical model was
selected using standard statistical model selection procedures, i.e. Akaike’s Information
Criteria and likelihood ratio tests. Despite the large data set of 4,259 specimens, model
selection remained statistically ambiguous. The Gompertz was selected as the best
statistical model for one cohort and the linear model for the other. Interestingly, the
biological implications of the best fitting Gompertz curve were not consistent with
observations from aquaculture. The study revealed that slight differences in data quality
may contribute to ambiguity in statistical model selection and that biological realism is also
needed as a criterion for model selection.
The robustness of different growth models to sampling error that is inconsistent between
samples was explored using Monte Carlo simulation and cross model simulation. The focus was on simulated length increment data largely from adult size classes (55 – 170 mm shell
length) as these data are more commonplace than data from juveniles. Results confirm
that the two main shortcomings in length increment data contributing to model
misspecification were (i) poor representation of juvenile size classes (< 80 mm) and (ii) low
sample size (n<150). Results indicate that when negative growth data are included in the
von Bertalanffy model, K increases and L∞ decreases. In reality the true description of
growth remains unknown. Given realistic length increment data, there is a reasonable
probability that an incorrect growth model may be selected as the best statistical model.
This is particularly important, because this study indicates there is a different magnitude of
error associated with each growth model. The important overall finding is that while it is
possible to make incorrect model selections using customary statistical fitting procedures,
departures from biological reality are lower if the incorrect inverse logistic model is selected
over the incorrect von Bertalanffy or Gompertz model.
The selection of the most appropriate growth model was further tested by fitting each of
the three growth models to length increment data from a total 30 wild populations. The
inverse logistic was the best statistically fitting model in 23 populations.
The combined results from data on the growth of juveniles, cross model simulation, and
fitting to data from numerous wild populations systematically revealed that the inverse
logistic model was the most robust empirical representation of blacklip abalone growth in
Tasmania. With this confidence in the selected model, it was then possible to address two
urgent ecological and management issues related to stock productivity; the effect of climate
change on growth rates and the success of broad-scale management controls in the
presence of fine-scale variability in growth rates.The effect of ocean warming on the growth rates of blacklip abalone populations was
explored from the analysis of length increment data from 30 populations across a range of
water temperatures. Measurements based on the growth rates of juveniles did not reveal a
clear negative relationship between temperature on growth. A decrease in growth rate was
observed however it may not be directly attributable to temperature but may be forced by
the onset of maturity, which does appear to be directly influenced by temperature.
Fine-scale estimates of growth rate are an implicit aspect of evaluating the success of
broad-scale management control such as Legal Minimum Length (LML) for harvesting. In
reality, it is not possible to obtain fine-scale growth rates given the expense of obtaining
empirical length increment data at fine spatial scales. Therefore, an alternative approach
was developed that exploited the correlation between the parameters of the inverse logistic
model and size at maturity. The approach generated theoretical, fine scale growth
parameters and population-specific LMLs for 252 populations around Tasmania. Using
population specific size limits, results revealed that 46 populations were unprotected by the
current Legal Minimum Length (LML) settings, potentially exposing those populations to
overexploitation. The majority of unprotected populations were located in the south west,
a region that is economically valuable. An important recommendation from this thesis is
that the LML of the economically valuable south-west region should be increased in order
to achieve the management goals of the fishery.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: growth models, abalone, climate change, productivity
Additional Information:

Copyright 2011 the Author

Date Deposited: 13 Sep 2011 06:32
Last Modified: 11 Mar 2016 05:53
Item Statistics: View statistics for this item

Actions (login required)

Item Control Page Item Control Page