Assessing mortality changes from size-frequency curves

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The relationship between the instantaneous mortality rate (Z) and the instantaneous change in length-frequency distribution of organisms per unit of animal size (μL) takes the following form: Z = μLk(L∞ - L) + k, where k and L∞ are coefficients of the von Bertalanffy equation, and L is organism size (length). Z and μL change coherently when they are measured for a specific size or age class. Therefore, observations of μL can provide information on the relative changes in mortality. This is useful when no precise information about animal growth is available and growth curve is assumed to be invariable. This method was tested on a heavily exploited population of St Peter's fish (mango tilapia) Sarotherodon galilaeus in Lake Kinneret, Israel, where large fluctuations in the size structure of the catch have occurred over the past few years. Analysis of the changes in the length-frequency distributions showed that the changes in μL over multiple years estimated for fully exploited fish reflected the respective changes in Z.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1624-1632
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Fish Biology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Age distribution
  • Instantaneous mortality rate
  • Lake Kinneret
  • Multi-annual changes
  • Size distribution
  • Tilapia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science


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