Polar Biology

, Volume 34, Issue 9, pp 1399–1409 | Cite as

Long-term changes in Krill biomass and distribution in the Barents Sea: are the changes mainly related to capelin stock size and temperature conditions?

  • Elena Eriksen
  • Padmini Dalpadado
Original Paper


Krill plays a significant role in the Barents Sea ecosystem, providing energy transport between different trophic levels. The current paper presents the results of a long-term study (1980–2009) based on pelagic trawl catches from August to September. Our investigations show that the krill species were distributed widely in the Barents Sea and that the largest krill concentrations were restricted to the west-central and eastern parts of the Barents Sea. The current paper presents the relative biomass indices, and the estimates must be interpreted as minimum biomass. The mean annual krill biomass was estimated to be 22 million tonnes in wet weight, with the highest values being as much as 48 million tonnes. Capelin is the largest pelagic stock, and in some years, their biomass can amount to 4–7 million tonnes, which can impose high predation pressure on krill. When their biomass is high, capelin may consume close to 26 million tonnes annually. The predation from pelagic (herring and blue whiting) and bottom (cod and haddock) fish species was much lower, being 9 and 1 million tonnes, respectively. A negative relationship between krill biomass and capelin stock size above 74°N was observed during the study period. However, during the last decade, the krill biomass has increased despite heavy predation from capelin in some years. A positive significant linear relationship between the mean annual Kola temperature and the krill biomass seems to indicate that the recent warming conditions have favourable impacts on the krill populations in the Barents Sea.


Krill Biomass Predation pressure Climate impact and Barents Sea ecosystem 



Standing stock of krill, based on biomass index in August–September


Minimum biomass of krill available to major fish predators in the six previous months



Our thanks are extended to Dr. M. Naganobu, Dr. Geraint Andrew Tarling, A. Dommasnes and three anonymous referees for providing constructive comments and to Dr. Geraint Andrew Tarling for proof reading. We acknowledge PINRO for making their data available to us. We would also like to acknowledge the economical support provided by the Barents Sea Research programme and FishExChange project (NFR contract number 178338/S30) at IMR.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Marine Research (IMR)BergenNorway

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