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Mortality And Recruitment Of Pacific Sardine, Sardinops Sagax Caerulea, Larvae In The California Current

John L. Butler

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The mortality rates of Pacific sardine, Sardinops sagax caerulea, larvae (< 20 d) increased during 1951–67, and this increase was positively correlated with the increase in biomass of northern anchovy, Engraulis mordax. Other potential correlates with larval sardine mortality rates were examined using multiple correlation. These included temperature and zooplankton volumes at stations positive for sardine larvae, water column stability, upwelling, transport, salinity anomalies, and Pacific mackerel, Scomber japonicus, abundance. None contributed significantly to the multiple regression with anchovy abundance. Thus, no evidence existed for either Lasker's stable ocean hypothesis of larval mortality or Hjort's larval transport hypothesis. The logarithm of the ratio of sardine recruits at age 2 to the spawning biomass was used as an index of recruitment success. Sardine recruitment success at age 2 was not correlated with larval mortality rates. Sardine recruitment, however, was negatively correlated with both northern anchovy biomass and the combined biomass of Pacific sardine, Pacific mackerel, and northern anchovy. A plausible explanation for this result is that predation by pelagic fishes results in greater mortality rates of sardine larvae and juveniles which in turn decrease sardine recruitment.