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Small Pelagic Fish in the New Millennium

February 01, 2021

We review the literature to reveal emerging global research trends on small pelagic fish, as opposed to more recently published, ecosystem-specific reviews, to better understand a vital role in global food security

Small pelagic fish (SPF) play extremely important ecological roles in marine ecosystems, form some of the most economically valuable fisheries resources, and play a vital role in global food security.

Due to their short generation times and tight coupling to lower trophic levels, populations of SPF display large boom-and-bust dynamics that are closely linked to climate variability.

To reveal emerging global research trends on SPF as opposed to more recently published, ecosystem-specific reviews of SPF, we reviewed the literature published in two, 6-year periods in the new millennium (2001–2006, and 2011–2016) straddling the publication of a large, global review of the dynamics of SPF in 2009.

The peer-reviewed literature reflects changes in the number of studies between the two time periods including increases (Mediterranean Sea, Humboldt Current) and decreases (Australia, Benguela Current).

Our review highlights:

  • gaps in ecological knowledge on young juveniles and, in general, on the impacts of hypoxia and heatwaves on SPF,
  • the utility of paleo studies in exploring population drivers
  • the continued need to develop spatially-explicit, full life-cycle models
  • the importance of exploring how density-dependent processes impact vital rates (growth, survival, reproduction)
  • the benefits of international collaboration for knowledge transfer and building unifying hypotheses on the role of bottom-up factors and processes that regulate SPF populations.

Peck MA, Alheit J, Bertrand A, Catalan IA, Garrido S, Moyano M, Rykaczewski R, Takasuka A, Van Der Lingen CD. 2021. Small pelagic fish in the new millennium: A bottom-up view of global research effort. Progress in Oceanography. 191:102494.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pocean.2020.102494.

Last updated by Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center on 06/07/2022

Pelagic Fish