Revisiting the concept of Beverton–Holt life-history invariants with the aim of informing data-poor fisheries assessment


The complexity and cost of assessment techniques prohibits their application to 90% of fisheries. Simple generic approaches are needed for the world’s small-scale and data-poor fisheries. This meta-analysis of the relationship between spawning potential and the normalized size and age of 123 marine species suggests that the so-called Beverton–Holt life-history invariants (BH-LHI; Lm/L∞, M/k, M × Agem) actually vary together in relation to life-history strategy, determining the relationship between size, age, and reproductive potential for each species. Although little realized, the common assumption of unique values for the BH-LHI also implies that all species share the same relationship between size, age, and reproductive potential. This implicit assumption is not supported by this meta-analysis, which suggests that there is considerable but predictable natural variation in the BH-LHI ratios and the relationships between size, age, and reproductive potential that they determine. We believe that this reconceptualization of the BH-LHI has potential to provide a theoretical framework for “borrowing” knowledge from well-studied species to apply to related, unstudied species and populations, and when applied together with the assessment technique described by Hordyk et al. (2015b), could make simple forms of size-based assessment possible for many currently unassessable fish stocks.

In ICES Journal of Marine Science