Marine Biology

, Volume 162, Issue 4, pp 753–761 | Cite as

Ontogeny of swimming capacity in plaice (Pleuronectes platessa) larvae

  • Luis Silva
  • Marta Moyano
  • Björn Illing
  • Ana M. Faria
  • Susana Garrido
  • Myron A. Peck
Original Paper


Little is known regarding the swimming ability of the larvae of European plaice (Pleuronectes platessa) in relation to changes in total length (TL), dry weight (DW) and developmental stage, which is surprising given the importance of transport processes to the recruitment dynamics of this species in the North Sea and elsewhere. We investigated ontogenetic changes in the critical swimming speed (U crit) of plaice from hatching to the onset of metamorphosis (50 days post-hatch, dph) at 8 °C. The mean (±SD) TL and DW growth rates were 1.59 ± 0.81 and 7.7 ± 0.35 % d−1, respectively. Larvae were unable to swim at against a minimum current speed of <0.5 cm s−1 until 10 dph (7 mm TL), after which U crit significantly increased with increasing TL until the onset of metamorphosis and subsequent settlement. Mean (±SD) U crit was 0.38(0.35), 1.59(0.54), 2.27(0.49) and 2.99(0.37) cm s−1 for stage I (6.61 ± 2.64 mm TL), stage II (7.75 ± 0.60 mm TL), stage III (9.10 ± 1.00 mm TL) and stage IV (11.59 ± 0.85 mm TL) larvae, respectively. Larval TL, DW, DNA content, RNA content and U crit significantly increased, whereas sRD significantly declined as larvae developed from stage I to V. Although inter-individual differences in U crit (coefficient of variation, CV = 33 %) were as large as those in biochemical and morphological condition (CV’s of 21–42 %), differences in U crit were not significantly related to those in nutritional condition and larvae with lower DNA/DW had also better swimming abilities. These estimates should be useful to ongoing efforts to create individual-based models of the transport, foraging and growth of plaice larvae in the North Sea.


Swimming Speed Swimming Performance Swimming Ability Velocity Increment Pacific Bluefin 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors would like to acknowledge Cindy van Damme, Adrian Rijnsdorp, Ralf van Hal, Franziska Bils for their help in collecting adult plaice; Martina Wichmann, Edurne Blanco and Julia Berg for their help in rearing the larvae and Santiago Álvarez-Fernández for his help with the statistical analysis. Two anonymous reviewers provided comments that helped improve an earlier version of this manuscript. M.M. was supported by an Alexander von Humboldt post-doctoral fellowship, S.G. by a FCT post-doctoral Fellowship SFRH/BPD/38332/2007 and A.F. by a FCT post-doctoral Fellowship SFRH/BPD/68673/2010. This work was partially supported by Project VITAL (FCT—PTDC/MAR/111304/2009).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Luis Silva
    • 1
  • Marta Moyano
    • 2
  • Björn Illing
    • 2
  • Ana M. Faria
    • 3
  • Susana Garrido
    • 1
    • 4
  • Myron A. Peck
    • 2
  1. 1.MARE – Marine and Environmental Sciences Centre, Faculdade de CiênciasUniversidade de LisboaLisboaPortugal
  2. 2.Institute for Hydrobiology and Fisheries ScienceUniversity of HamburgHamburgGermany
  3. 3.Eco-Ethology Research UnitInstituto Superior de Psicologia AplicadaLisbonPortugal
  4. 4.Instituto Português do Mar e da Atmosfera (IPMA)LisboaPortugal

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