Multimodel approaches in shark and ray growth studies

paperPublished online on 23. February 2016

Multimodel approaches in shark and ray growth studies:
strengths, weaknesses and the future

Jonathan J Smart, Andrew Chin, Andrew J Tobin, Colin A Simpfendorfer


Multimodel frameworks are common in contemporary elasmobranch growth literature. These techniques offer a proposed improvement over individual growth functions by incorporating additional candidate models with alternative characteristics. Sigmoid functions (e.g. Gompertz and logistic) are a popular alternative to the commonly used von Bertalanffy growth function (VBGF) as they are hypothesized to better suit certain taxa based on body shape (such as batoids) or reproductive mode (such as egg-layers). However, this hypothesis has never been tested. This study examined 74 elasmobranch multimodel growth studies by comparing the growth curves of their respective candidate models. Hypotheses regarding model performances were rejected as the VBGF was equally likely to fit best for all taxa and reproductive modes. Subsequently, no individual model was suited to be used a priori. Differences between candidate model fits were greatest at age zero with Gompertz and logistic functions providing estimates that were 15% and 23% larger on average than the VBGF, respectively. However, length-at-age estimates of the different models became negligible at older ages. Differences between candidate models were mostly small (≤5%), and the multimodel framework only marginally affected length-at-age estimates. However, there were cases where some candidate models provided inappropriate fits that contrasted considerably to the best fitting model. In some of these instances, a single-model framework could have yielded biologically unrealistic growth estimates. Therefore, no study could pre-empt whether or not it required a multimodel framework. A framework was subsequently recommended to maximize the accuracy of model fits for elasmobranch length-at-age estimates using multimodel approaches.

Fish and Fisheries. Early View Version, doi: 10.1111/faf.12154



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