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Modeled larval fish prey fields and growth rates help predict recruitment success of cod and anchovy in the North Sea
Huebert, K.B.; Pätsch, J.; Hufnagl, M.; Kreus, M.; Peck, M.A. (2018). Modeled larval fish prey fields and growth rates help predict recruitment success of cod and anchovy in the North Sea. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 600: 111-126. https://hdl.handle.net/10.3354/meps12615
In: Marine Ecology Progress Series. Inter-Research: Oldendorf/Luhe. ISSN 0171-8630; e-ISSN 1616-1599, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keywords
    Engraulis encrasicolus (Linnaeus, 1758) [WoRMS]; Gadus morhua Linnaeus, 1758 [WoRMS]; Marine
Author keywords
    Fish larvae · Plankton · Model · Bottom-up processes · Prey availability · Growth · Recruitment · Cod · Anchovy · North Sea

Authors  Top 
  • Huebert, K.B.
  • Pätsch, J.
  • Hufnagl, M.
  • Kreus, M.
  • Peck, M.A.

Abstract
    We introduce a new, coupled modeling approach for simulating ecosystem-wide patterns in larval fish foraging and growth. An application of the method reveals how interplay between temperature and plankton dynamics during 1970-2009 impacted a cold-water species (Atlantic cod Gadus morhua) and a warm-water species (European anchovy Engraulis encrasicolus) in the North Sea. Larval fish growth rates were estimated by coupling models depicting trait-based foraging and bioenergetics of individuals, spatiotemporal changes in their prey field, and the biogeochemistry and hydrodynamics of the region. The biomass composition of modeled prey fields varied from 89% nano-, 10% micro-, and 1% mesoplankton to 15% nano-, 20% micro-, and 65% mesoplankton. The mean slope of the normalized biomass size spectrum was near -1.2, consistent with theoretical and empirical estimates. Median larval fish growth rates peaked in June for cod (24% d-1) and in July for anchovy (17% d-1). Insufficient prey resources played a substantial role in limiting the growth rates of cod larvae. Anchovy were consistently limited by cold temperatures. Faster median larval growth during specific months was significantly (p < 0.05) positively associated with detrended (i.e. higher than expected) juvenile recruitment indices in cod (rank correlation Kendall’s tau = 22%) and anchovy (tau = 42%). For cod, the most predictive month was February, which was also when food limitation was most prevalent. The continued development of modeling tools based on first principles can help further a mechanistic understanding of how changes in the environment affect the productivity of living marine resources.

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