, Volume 149, Issue 4, pp 593–603 | Cite as

Climate change and condition of herring (Clupea harengus) explain long-term trends in extent of skipped reproduction

  • Georg H. Engelhard
  • Mikko Heino
Population Ecology


It is commonly assumed that iteroparous fish, once mature, normally reproduce in all consecutive seasons. Recent work has suggested, however, that in Norwegian spring-spawning herring—a population that undertakes extensive spawning migrations—almost one in two adults may skip their second spawning migration. Why should herring not return to spawn the year after first spawning, but instead wait an extra year? For herring, participation in distant, energetically costly, and risky spawning migrations will only pay off in terms of fitness if individuals are sufficiently large, and in sufficient condition, to both successfully migrate and spawn. Changes in the environment and individual condition should therefore affect the likelihood of skipped spawning. This paper describes long-term changes in the extent to which the second reproductive season is skipped in this herring population. These are shown to be linked to the size and condition of herring as first-time spawners, and to climatic factors possibly related to food availability. The findings corroborate the hypothesis that skipped reproduction results from trade-offs between current and future reproduction, growth and survival.


Skipping reproduction Size and condition Climate Current and future reproduction Spawning migration costs and risks 



This study was supported by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs of the United Kingdom (Contract MFO322) and by the European Research Training Network ModLife, funded through the Human Potential Programme of the European Commission (Contract HPRN-CT-2000-00051). Ewen Bell, Georgi Daskalov, Christian Jørgensen, Rick Rideout, Robert Scott, Reidar Toresen and our anonymous reviewer provided valuable discussions and comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Cefas LowestoftLowestoftUK
  2. 2.Institute of Marine ResearchBergenNorway
  3. 3.Adaptive Dynamics NetworkInternational Institute for Applied Systems AnalysisLaxenburgAustria
  4. 4.Department of BiologyUniversity of BergenBergenNorway

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