NCEAS Product 11113

Walters, Carl J.; Kitchell, James F. 2001. Cultivation/depensation effects on juvenile survival and recruitment: Implications for the theory of fishing. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences. Vol: 58(1). Pages 39-50. (Abstract) (Online version)


Large, dominant fish species that are the basis of many fisheries may be naturally so successful due partly to "cultivation effects," where adults crop down forage species that are potential competitors/predators of their own juveniles. Such effects imply a converse impact when adult abundance is severely reduced by fishing: increases in forage species may then cause lagged, apparently depensatory decreases in juvenile survival. Depensatory effects can then delay or prevent stock rebuilding. Cultivation effects are apparently common in freshwater communities and may also explain low recruitment success following severe declines of some major marine stocks such as Newfoundland Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua). Risk of depensatory effects should be a major target of recruitment research, and management policies should aim for considerably higher spawning abundances than has previously been assumed necessary based on recruitment data collected during adult stock declines associated with fishery development.