Population ecology looks at the distribution, structure and dynamics of a population. These include:
Stock recovery plans rely upon this science in order to gain a clear understanding of what the population is doing.
The only current Ecological Quality Objective for commercial fish species is the spawning stock biomass, a simplified proxy for reproductive potential. Recent advances in genetic and phenotypic structuring of fish stocks have highlighted that our current advice system based on stock management areas can fail to identify important stock dynamics and lead to inflated estimates of recruitment and total stock abundance.
The degree to which populations within a stock management unit differ in terms of life-history and reproductive strategies is crucial to understanding total stock productivity. Marine Scotland Science is currently engaged in research into population ecology to address these important issues.