Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 98, Issue 7, pp 1767–1776 | Cite as

Evidence from data storage tags for the presence of lunar and semi-lunar behavioral cycles in spawning Atlantic cod

  • Timothy B. GrabowskiEmail author
  • Bruce J. McAdam
  • Vilhjálmur Thorsteinsson
  • Gudrún Marteinsdóttir


Understanding the environmental processes determining the timing and success of reproduction is of critical importance to developing effective management strategies of marine fishes. Unfortunately it has proven difficult to comprehensively study the reproductive behavior of broadcast-spawning fishes. The use of electronic data storage tags (DSTs) has the potential to provide insights into the behavior of fishes. These tags allow for data collection over relatively large spatial and temporal scales that can be correlated to predicted environmental conditions and ultimately be used to refine predictions of year class strength. In this paper we present data retrieved from DSTs demonstrating that events putatively identified as Atlantic cod spawning behavior is tied to a lunar cycle with a pronounced semi-lunar cycle within it. Peak activity occurs around the full and new moon with no evidence of relationship with day/night cycles.


Lunar cycle Data storage tags Reproductive ecology Diurnal solar cycle Gadus morhu 



We thank all of the captains and crew members from vessels used in this study for their assistance with sampling and tagging; H. Karlsson and B. Gunnarsson of the Icelandic Marine Research Institute for their assistance with tagging; S. Guðbjörnsson and S. Gunnlaugsson at Star-Oddi Marine Device Manufacturing for assistance with DST deployment, data recovery, and data analysis; and of the Icelandic fishermen who participated in this study by returning tags. J. Long provided comments and suggestions that improved the final version of this manuscript. Funding for this project was provided by the Marine Research Institute, Iceland; the University of Iceland Research Fund; the EU-projects “CODYSSEY” (Q5RS-2002-00813; 2003-2006) and “METACOD” (Q5RS-2001-00953; 2002-2005); the Icelandic Research Fund (grant number: 070019023); and the Fisheries Project Fund of the Icelandic Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture. BJM received funding from the MASTS pooling initiative (The Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland, funded by the Scottish Funding Council grant reference HR09011 and contributing institutions) and their support is gratefully acknowledged. Fish tagging activities conducted by V.T. under license number 0304-1901 issued by the Icelandic Committee for Welfare of Experimental Animals, Chief Veterinary Office at the Ministry of Agriculture, Reykjavik, Iceland. Cooperating agencies for the Texas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit are the U.S. Geological Survey, Texas Tech University, Texas Parks and Wildlife, and the Wildlife Management Institute. Use of trade, product, or firm names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.

Supplementary material

10641_2015_396_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (1.1 mb)
ESM 1 (PDF 1089 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht (outside the USA) 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Timothy B. Grabowski
    • 1
    Email author
  • Bruce J. McAdam
    • 2
  • Vilhjálmur Thorsteinsson
    • 3
  • Gudrún Marteinsdóttir
    • 4
  1. 1.U.S. Geological Survey, Texas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research UnitTexas Tech UniversityLubbockUSA
  2. 2.Institute of AquacultureUniversity of StirlingStirlingUK
  3. 3.Marine Research InstituteReykjavikIceland
  4. 4.Institute of BiologyUniversity of IcelandReykjavikIceland

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