Evaluating the Importance of Growth Variation in Marine Fish Population Dynamics and Stock Assessment

Modeling somatic growth variation, this Washington Sea Grant’s NOAA Fisheries Fellow spearheads development of a novel way to use size-at-age data from fishery or other sources to test hypotheses about growth dynamics variability.


Christine Stawitz, University of Washington, School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences

Project Leader

Timothy Essington, University of Washington, School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences

Co-Project Leader

Melissa Haltuch, NOAA, Northwest Fisheries Science Center


Recent research suggests that variations in growth rates may play a key role in regulating fisheries. Growth rates can be affected by a variety of factors. Many populations are impacted by changes in ocean conditions such as upwelling, surface temperature, and climate regimes. Density-dependent growth is also a well-documented phenomena among fish populations. Understanding demographic variation in recruitment and somatic growth is key to improving our understanding of population dynamics and forecasting ability. This project proposes to quantify growth and recruitment in various fish stocks at multiple life stages and assess their importance to population fluctuations. It will also study the effects of growth variation on management reference points and growth-parameter estimates under alternative life histories and fishing pressures.


Stawitz, C.C., Siple, M.C., Munsch, S.H., Qi, L. 2017. “The financial and ecological implications of seafood mislabeling”. Conservation Letters. 10.1111/conl.12328

Annual Reports

2016 Progress Report

2015 Progress Report