We analysed growth rates of two natural populations of the three–spined stickleback fish, Gasterosteus aculeatus, in Galicia (north–west of Spain) where it has a strictly annual life cycle. We used the von Bertalanffy growth model to estimate nonlinear function for length–at–age data sets. These European peripheral populations reach the highest growth rates (k of the von Bertalanffy model > 0.4 month–1) known for this species. Instantaneous mortality rates and fecundity were computed using von Bertalanffy model parameters for each population. Mortality rates found in Galician populations were 2.0–2.3 higher times than those observed in general for Gasterosteidae. Combining both mortality and fertility, different intermediate fitness optima in each population were obtained for mature females. Overall, these differences in life history compared to other studied populations of sticklebacks can be interpreted as local adaptations to a Mediterranean climate type with high degree–days. Consequently, these populations at the edges of the species’ range may have adapted to the unique environmental conditions and may be of interest in ecology and conservation.
Ontogenetic growth, Peripheral populations, Semelparous, Fitness, Natural mortality, Half–life, Gasterosteus aculeatus
Reception date: 13 I 20 | Acceptation date: 11 VI 20 | Publication date: 30 VI 20
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