Towards an understanding of recruitment mechanisms in largemouth bass

Joseph J. Parkos, David H Wahl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We reviewed the literature on the biology and population dynamics of young-of-the-year (YOY) largemouth bass for the purpose of placing current knowledge of largemouth bass recruitment variability within the context of general fish recruitment hypotheses. We summarized important sources of recruitment variability during the embryonic, larval, and YOY juvenile developmental stages of largemouth bass, and synthesized these results to determine if one of these life stages represented a critical recruitment bottleneck. Density-independent sources of mortality, such as water level and temperature, affected bass recruitment primarily through embryo mortality. Food limitation at the larval stage was potentially important as well, but prey availability had its strongest effect on YOY growth. Diet and hatch time strongly affected growth, with subsequent effects on recruitment variability through size-dependent mortality of juveniles. Size-dependent YOY mortality was caused by either abiotic factors, such as water temperature, or predation. Adult stock abundance had little effect on bass year-class strength, but stock-specific characteristics, such as hatch time and growth, influenced juvenile survival. We developed a conceptual model of largemouth bass recruitment, wherein recruitment to age one is determined by either embryo or YOY juvenile mortality. Embryo stage dynamics are critical in systems prone to episodic mortality caused by abiotic factors. Otherwise, size-specific mortality at the YOY juvenile developmental stage, caused by predation during either the summer or overwinter and overwinter starvation, are the major determinants of largemouth bass recruitment variability. The majority of previous work was conducted in reservoir systems at lower latitudes, therefore, further work in other systems will be needed to test the generality of our conceptual model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)25-45
Number of pages21
JournalAmerican Fisheries Society Symposium
Issue number31
StatePublished - Dec 1 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science


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