Northwest Fisheries Science Center

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Document Type: Journal Article
Center: NWFSC
Document ID: 7466
Title: Techniques for improving estimates of maturity ogives in groundfish using double-reads and measurement error models
Author: Melissa A. Head, Gretchen L. Stokes, James T. Thorson, Aimee A. Keller
Publication Year: 2016
Journal: Fisheries Research
Keywords: maturity ogive,skipped spawning,histological error,reader certainty, groundfish, measurement error model,

The reproductive output of a population depends upon physiological factors, including maturation rates and fecundity –at-size and –at-age, as well as the rate at which post-maturation females fail to spawn (i.e. skipped spawning). These rates are increasingly included in stock assessment models, and are thought to change over time due to harvest and environmental factors. Thus, it is important to accurately estimate maturation and skipped spawning rates while also including information on imprecision. For this task, we developed a new double-read and measurement-error modeling protocol for estimating maturity that is based on the use of multiple histological reads of ovaries to account for reader error caused by poorly prepared slides, nuclear smear, and early yolk development. Application to three U.S. West Coast groundfishes (Pacific hake Merluccius productus, darkblotched rockfish Sebastes crameri, and canary rockfish Sebastes pinniger) indicates that reader uncertainty is strongly predictive of reader error rates. Results also show differences in rates of skipped spawning among species, which should be further investigated. We recommend that future maturity studies record reader certainty, use models that incorporate covariates into the analysis, and conduct an initial double reader analysis. If readers exhibit little variation, then double reads may not be necessary. In addition, slide quality should also be recorded, so that future studies do not confuse this with reader imprecision. This improved protocol will assist in estimating life history, as well as environmental, and anthropogenic effects on maturity.

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Theme: Recovery and rebuilding of marine and coastal species
Foci: Develop methods to use physiological, biological and behavioral information to predict population-level processes.
Characterize the population biology of species, and develop and improve methods for predicting the status of populations.