Marine Biology

, Volume 84, Issue 1, pp 13–26 | Cite as

Effects of delayed feeding and temperature on the age of irreversible starvation and on the rates of growth and mortality of Pacific herring larvae

  • M. D. McGurk


The time periods from exhausion of the yolk to the age of irreversible starvation for Pacific herring Clupea harengus pallasi larvae were 8.5, 7.0 and 6.0 d at 6°, 8° and 10°C, respectively. These periods are within the range perviously measured for Atlantic herring larvae and other temperature zone fish species; they are long compared to the periods for tropical species. The variation in the length of this period is due almost entirely to temperature; the natural logarithm of the time period from fertilization to irreversible starvation is highly correlated (r=0.91) with the mean rearing temperature for 25 species of pelagic marine fish larvae. The rates of growth and mortality, measured for 26 experimental populations of Pacific herring larvae reared at 6°, 8° and 10°C and ten ages of delayed first feeding, decreased and increased, respectively with increasing age of first feeding and increasing temperature. These rates, adjusted for the effects of rearing conditions, were compared with the rates for natural populations of herring larvae. Growth is generally faster in the sea than in experimental enclosures. Two of the eleven estimates of natural mortality rate were high enough to indicate possible catastrophic mass starvation. This is consistent with Hjort's critical period concept of year class formation and it suggests that mass starvation occurs in 18 to 36% of the natural populations of first feeding herring larvae.


Natural Population Temperature Zone Marine Fish Class Formation Fish Larva 
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© Springer-Verlag 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. D. McGurk
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Animal Resource EcologyUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

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