Vertical migrations of herring, Clupea harengus, larvae in relation to light and prey distribution

Synopsis

The influence of light and prey abundance on the vertical distribution of herring larvae was evaluated by three investigations made under calm weather conditions in the North Sea off the Scottish coast. The investigations took place at different time after hatching and the vertical distributions of three size groups of larvae (mean sizes 8,15 and 19 mm) were related to time of day and the vertical distribution of copepods. No migratory behaviour of copepods was observed but their vertical distribution differed between investigations. In the investigation on intermediate sized larvae, copepod density peaked at the pycnocline (40 m). Larvae concentrated at this depth at noon. At dawn and dusk larvae migrated towards the surface and the vertical distributions fluctuated semidielly. In the two other investigations, copepods were homogeneously distributed in the water column and after migration towards the surface at dawn larvae stayed in the upper water column during the day. The observations suggest that the daytime vertical distribution of larvae in calm weather is mainly determined by feeding conditions: the larvae move to depths were light is sufficient for feeding, and refinement within that zone is made according to a compromise between optimal light conditions for feeding and optimal prey densities.

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Munk, P., Kiørboe, T. & Christensen, V. Vertical migrations of herring, Clupea harengus, larvae in relation to light and prey distribution. Environ Biol Fish 26, 87–96 (1989). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00001025

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Key words

  • Migratory cycle
  • Prey concentrations
  • Mean depth of distribution
  • Size specific sinking rate