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The Effect of Latitudinal Variation on Shrimp Reproductive Strategies.

Abstract

Reproductive strategies comprise the timing and frequency of reproductive events and the number of offspring per reproductive event, depending on factors such as climate conditions. Therefore, species that exhibit plasticity in the allocation of reproductive effort can alter their behavior in response to climate change. Studying how the reproductive strategy of species varies along the latitudinal gradient can help us understand and predict how they will respond to climate change. We investigated the effects of the temporal allocation of reproductive effort on the population size of brown shrimp (Farfantepenaeus aztecus) along a latitudinal gradient. Multiple shrimp species exhibit variation in their reproductive strategies, and given the economic importance of brown shrimp to the commercial fishing sector of the Unites States, changes in the timing of their reproduction could have significant economic and social consequences. We used a stage-based, density-dependent matrix population model tailored to the life history of brown shrimp. Shrimp growth rates and environmental carrying capacity were varied based on the seasonal climate conditions at different latitudes, and we estimated the population size at equilibrium. The length of the growing season increased with decreasing latitude and the reproductive strategy leading to the highest population size changed from one annual birth pulse with high reproductive output to continuous low-output reproduction. Hence, our model confirms the classical paradigm of continuous reproduction at low latitudes, with increased seasonality of the breeding period towards the poles. Our results also demonstrate the potential for variation in climate to affect the optimal reproductive strategy for achieving maximum population sizes. Certainly, understanding these dynamics may inform more comprehensive management strategies for commercially important species like brown shrimp.

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