Identifying the location and importance of spawning sites of Western Baltic herring using a particle backtracking model

Bauer, Robert Klaus GND; Gräwe, Ulf; Stepputtis, Daniel GND; Zimmermann, Christopher GND; Hammer, Cornelius GND

The recruitment success of some herring stocks fluctuates strongly, and apparently, success is often already determined during the early life stages, i.e. before metamorphosis. In studying the survival of early life stages and its affecting factors, particularly those during the egg stage, it is crucial to examine the processes at the spawning sites, which often cannot be explored directly. A recent decline in the recruitment of Western Baltic spring-spawning herring (WBSSH) increases the urgency of filling the knowledge gap for this stock, especially because one bottleneck in the recruitment seems to occur before hatching. We examined the successful 2003–2009 spawning sites of WBSSH in the main spawning ground, the Greifswalder Bodden lagoon. Instead of using common techniques such as diving or underwater videography, which are usually unsuitable formapping large areas,weapplied a model approach.Wetracked herring larvae at length 6–10 mm, recorded by larval surveys during March–June of the respective years, back to their hatching sites using a Lagrangian particle backtracking model. We compared the spawning areas identified by the modelwith the results of earlier field studies; however, we also analysed variations between years, larval length groups, and different applied growth models, which are needed to define hatch-dates. Although spawning sites could not be identified with high precision because of the strong diffusion in the area studied, results indicate that larvae up to 10 mmlength are caught near their hatching sites. However, the location of successful spawning sites varied largely between years, with the main hatching sites situated in the Strelasund and the eastern entrance of the lagoon. This may reflect variations in spawning-site selection or quality. A better knowledge of the locations and relative importance of, and the processes occurring on, the different spawning sites will provide an important contribution to the sustainable management of this commercially valuable herring stock.

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Bauer, Robert Klaus / Gräwe, Ulf / Stepputtis, Daniel / et al: Identifying the location and importance of spawning sites of Western Baltic herring using a particle backtracking model. 2014.

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