Maturity ogives for South Pacific albacore tuna (Thunnus alalunga) that account for spatial and seasonal variation in the distributions of mature and immature fish

Jessica H. Farley, Simon D. Hoyle, J. Paige Eveson, Ashley J. Williams, Campbell R. Davies, Simon J. Nicol

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Citations (Scopus)


Length and age at maturity are important life history parameters for estimating spawning stock biomass and reproductive potential of fish stocks. Bias in estimates of size and age at maturity can arise when disparate distributions of mature and immature fish within a population are not accounted for in the analysis. Here we investigate the spatial and temporal variability in observed size and age at maturity of female albacore tuna, Thunnus alalunga, using samples collected across the South Pacific. Maturity status was identified using consistent histological criteria that were precise enough to allow for mature but regenerating females to be distinguished from immature females during the non-spawning season, permitting year-round sampling for maturity estimation in albacore. Using generalised linear mixed models, we found that the proportion of mature females at length varied significantly with latitude and time of year. Specifically, females at northern latitudes (∼10-20°S, where spawning occurs) were mature at significantly smaller lengths and ages than females at southern latitudes (∼20-40°S), particularly during the spawning season (October-March). This variation was due to different geographic distributions of mature and immature fish during the year. We present a method for estimating an unbiased maturity ogive that takes into account the latitudinal variation in proportion mature at length during a given season (spawning or non-spawning). Applying this method to albacore samples from the western region of the South Pacific gave a predicted length at 50% mature of ∼87 cm fork length (4.5 years).

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere83017
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalPLoS One
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes


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