Century-long cod otolith biochronology reveals individual growth plasticity in response to temperature
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionScientific Reports. 2020, 10 1-13. 10.1038/s41598-020-73652-6
Otolith biochronologies combine growth records from individual fish to produce long-term growth sequences, which can help to disentangle individual from population-level responses to environmental variability. This study assessed individual thermal plasticity of Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) growth in Icelandic waters based on measurements of otolith increments. We applied linear mixed-effects models and developed a century-long growth biochronology (1908–2014). We demonstrated interannual and cohort-specific changes in the growth of Icelandic cod over the last century which were mainly driven by temperature variation. Temperature had contrasting relationships with growth—positive for the fish during the youngest ages and negative during the oldest ages. We decomposed the effects of temperature on growth observed at the population level into within-individual effects and among‐individual effects and detected significant individual variation in the thermal plasticity of growth. Variance in the individual plasticity differed across cohorts and may be related to the mean environmental conditions experienced by the group. Our results underscore the complexity of the relationships between climatic conditions and the growth of fish at both the population and individual level, and highlight the need to distinguish between average population responses and growth plasticity of the individuals for accurate growth predictions.