Population and managerial consequences of fish behavioral variation in marine fish species

[Cod. PID2022-139349OB-I00 METARAOR]

Oceans around the globe are inhabited by fish displaying a fascinating behavioural variation within and between species. Fish can be classified according to their behavioural type, which play different roles in several ecological functions of marine systems. Individual’s behaviour also determines the fate of fish, because vulnerability and behaviour are linked in exploited species. However, the role of behavioural types in the population dynamics of exploited species still remains unknow, despite recent evidence suggests that fisheries-induced change in fish behaviour may alter food-webs and fisheries revenue. This project aims into: i) upscaling individual behaviour to the population, and ii) to study the population and management consequences of the behavioural variation in wild marine fish populations. We will first study the degree of environmental and genetic contribution in behavioural variation in the pearly razorfish, Xyrichtys novacula, as a model species, using state-of-the-art animal tracking technologies and high-throughput genomics tools (WP1). Marine populations usually operate as systems with high levels of gene flow due the pelagic nature of early-life stages. Therefore, we will consider a metapopulation structure when upscaling the consequences of individual behaviour by using an integrative approach to connectivity based on hydrodynamics-based numerical simulations, genetic markers and otoliths trace elements (WP2). With all new knowledge gained, we will model the metapopulation dynamics of our study-case using a novel individual-based approach considering a bio-energetic framework describing individual functioning and field survivorship data obtained from different sources (WP3). Finally, we will translate the scientific output to inform policy by means of participatory workshops with stakeholders to evaluate the role of behavioural variation in exploited metapopulation, and to explore fisheries management trade-offs in existing or possible future scenarios (WP4). This project fits into a major thematic priority of the State Plan for Scientific and Technical Research and Innovation 2021-2023 as is born under the umbrella of the "Decade of Ocean Sciences for Sustainable " promoted by the United Nations. This expected outcome of the project will provide novel insights for the improvement on the management of many marine fisheries based on fish behaviour and its environmental/genetic basis, and will improve our understanding of different poorly-known ecological and evolutionary processes that occurs in marine metapopulations.