Reproduction and recruitment of the brown shrimp Crangon crangon in the inner German Bight (North Sea): An interannual study and critical reappraisal
The brown shrimp,Crangon crangon, is the most important target of the coastal crustacean fisheries in the German Bight. In order to evaluate the relation between the abundance of ovigerous females and larvae in spring and the recruitment success in autumn, we first analysed the seasonal appearance of ovigerous females and larvae from weekly samples throughout 2012. The spawning season in the German Bight extends over several months comprising multiple unsynchronized spawning events. The minimum shares of ovigerous females appeared in early autumn, and the highest shares in late winter bearing mostly early egg stages. We defined the putative start of the reproductive cycle for November when the frequency of ovigerous females started to increase. There was no distinct separation between winter and summer eggs, but a continuous transition between large eggs spawned in winter (the early spawning season) and batches of smaller eggs in spring and summer. Larval densities peaked in April/May. Consequently, regular annual larval surveys from 2013 to 2016 were scheduled for April/May and extended to six transects covering the inner German Bight. Ovigerous females were most abundant in shallow waters above the 20‐m isobaths, which also explained regional differences in abundance between the regions off North Frisia and East Frisia. No relation was obvious between the number of larvae in spring and recruited stock in autumn. Due to the short lifespan of C. crangon, the combination of various abiotic factors and predator presence seems to be the principal parameters controlling stock size.