Linear mixed-effects models to describe length-weight relationships for yellow croaker (Larimichthys Polyactis) along the north coast of China

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In this study, length-weight relationships and relative condition factors were analyzed for Yellow Croaker (Larimichthys polyactis) along the north coast of China. Data covered six regions from north to south: Yellow River Estuary, Coastal Waters of Northern Shandong, Jiaozhou Bay, Coastal Waters of Qingdao, Haizhou Bay, and South Yellow Sea. In total 3,275 individuals were collected during six years (2008, 2011–2015). One generalized linear model, two simply linear models and nine linear mixed effect models that applied the effects from regions and/or years to coefficient a and/or the exponent b were studied and compared. Among these twelve models, the linear mixed effect model with random effects from both regions and years fit the data best, with lowest Akaike information criterion value and mean absolute error. In this model, the estimated a was 0.0192, with 95% confidence interval 0.0178~0.0308, and the estimated exponent b was 2.917 with 95% confidence interval 2.731~2.945. Estimates for a and b with the random effects in intercept and coefficient from Region and Year, ranged from 0.013 to 0.023 and from 2.835 to 3.017, respectively. Both regions and years had effects on parameters a and b, while the effects from years were shown to be much larger than those from regions. Except for Coastal Waters of Northern Shandong, a decreased from north to south. Condition factors relative to reference years of 1960, 1986, 2005, 2007, 2008~2009 and 2010 revealed that the body shape of Yellow Croaker became thinner in recent years. Furthermore relative condition factors varied among months, years, regions and length. The values of a and relative condition factors decreased, when the environmental pollution became worse, therefore, length-weight relationships could be an indicator for the environment quality. Results from this study provided basic description of current condition of Yellow Croaker along the north coast of China.