Early Life History of Fishes in the San Francisco Estuary and Watershed

Growth and Growth Rate Variability of Larval Striped Bass in the San Francisco Estuary, California

Stephen F. Foss and Lee W. Miller

doi: https://doi.org/10.47886/9781888569599.ch13

Abstract.—We investigated factors affecting growth of larval striped bass Morone saxatilis in the San Francisco Estuary from 1984 to 1993. We estimated ages and growth rates of larval striped bass from daily otolith increments. Mean annual growth rates of 6–14 mm standard length striped bass varied from 0.13 to 0.27mm/d, the lowest rate occurring in 1989 and the highest in 1992. The 1989 growth rate was significantly lower than all other years, and growth rates for 1992 and 1993 were significantly higher than all other years, but did not differ from one another. Differences in annual growth rates apparently were due mainly to differences in mean annual prey densities because growth rate increased as prey density increased. Compared to both laboratory measured growth rates and growth rates of field-caught Chesapeake Bay larvae, growth rates from the San Francisco Estuary appeared to be high for the food available, indicating that larvae can grow at relatively high rates even at low prey densities. Correlation analyses did not support density-dependent control of growth rates. Growth rate was not significantly related to mean annual conductivity, water temperature, mortality rates, or the juvenile abundance index, but was significantly and positively correlated with densities of 1-mm length-groups of 9–14-mm striped bass.