In this study we evaluated the effects of region, body size, and sample size on the weight-length relationship (WLR) of small-bodied fishes that commonly occur in eelgrass meadows (Zostera marina) along the Pacific coast of Canada. Due to the location of the BC coast within Zoogeographic and oceanographic transition zones, we hypothesized that regional differences in the WLR would be observed. Surprisingly, no effect of region on the slope parameter b was detected for any of the 30 fish species examined. Further, eight species exhibited bimodality in their length-frequency histograms, but we did not detect an effect of body size on b with hierarchical mixed effects models. Moreover, the prediction that species collections with a high proportion of juveniles would be more likely to exhibit positive allometric growth (b > 3.0) is not supported by our data. We also considered the effect of sample size on estimates of the ‘true’ WLR for eight species representing different body shapes, and we found that a minimum of 100 individuals of each species could be pooled from different areas along the BC coast and used to generate precise WLRs for small-bodied fish species. Overall, the results from this study can be used to facilitate further inquiries into the functioning and production dynamics of small-bodied fish species in nursery habitats, such as eelgrass meadows.
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Vol. 88 • No. 2