Influence of larval prey availability on year class strength in Faroe Plateau cod (Gadus morhua)

Sólvá Jacobsen, Kristoffer Klitgaard Nielsen, Rune Kristiansen, Peter Grønkjær, Eilif Gaard, Petur Steingrund

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Abstract

Recruitment to the Faroe Plateau cod (Gadus morhua) stock (62°N, 6.8°W) is highly variable between years, and availability of suitable prey during the early life stages may determine the year class strength. Here we first investigate interannual variability in recruitment (1983–2017) of cod based on survey data and data from stock assessments. Positive relationships between the spawning stock biomass and larval abundance and between juvenile abundance and recruitment at year 1 were detected. However, the relationship between larval abundance and juvenile abundance was not statistically significant, indicating variable survival during the larval/early juvenile stages. We then investigated if food availability at the larval and early juvenile stages could explain the variability in recruitment using an 8-year long time series of larval and juvenile gut content. Feeding at the early larval stage, present during the pre-bloom, was relatively stable between years. However, large interannual variability in feeding at the early juvenile stage was detected. When juvenile survival and mean length were high, juveniles clearly had less food in their guts. This contradiction is suggested to be due to intense grazing pressure on the zooplankton at high juvenile abundances. However, years with high larval survival coincided with years when the phytoplankton spring bloom was early and intense, suggesting that production of suitable prey during the larval stages determines larval growth and survival and that this production is dependent on the phytoplankton spring bloom characteristics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalMarine Biology / International Journal on Life in Oceans and Coastal Waters
Volume169
Issue number153
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2022

Keywords

  • cod
  • recruitment
  • larvae
  • juveniles
  • prey
  • Faroe shelf

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