Length structure of deep-pelagic fishes sheds new light to their life histories
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Here we use a new technique to study life history variation in deep-pelagic fishes from a midocean ridge system. Shape of length distribution in a population is to a significant extent determined by the degree to which an average individual approaches its asymptotic maximum size. Analysing the material from the pelagic trawl hauls taken during the 2004 Mar-Eco expedition along the northern Mid-Atlantic Ridge, we show that length distributions in many deep-pelagic fish species are characterised by negative skew (the left tail of the distribution is longer). In other words, a large proportion of individuals had a size close to species-specific maximum size. Provided that our sampling can be considered representative, this finding suggests that deep-pelagic fishes have a low mortality rate relative to the rate at which they grow towards their asymptotic size. Keywords: Life history, growth trajectory, mortality