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Mortality of Herring Eggs on Different Algal Substrates (Furcellaria spp. and Cladophora spp.) in the Baltic Sea – An Experimental Study


In the Baltic Sea, herring (Clupea harengus membras) spawns in the littoral zone, where its eggs are attached to algae or vascular plants. Field studies indicate that egg mortality can be very high (up to 100%) in eggs that are attached to red algae (Rajasilta et al., 1989, 1993). Because high mortality can be due to allelochemical effects of the algae, we studied the mortality of herring eggs on different algal substrates experimentally. Four types of substrates were tested: fresh Cladophora and Furcellaria, and Furcellaria that had decomposed six days or 23 days. The incubation time in the experiments was 3 days and incubation temperature 12–13 oC (ca. 700–800 h-degrees). The results were in accordance with observations made in field studies and indicated significant differences among the substrate types. In eggs attached to fresh Cladophora, mortality was significantly lower (mean=2.8%; n=20) than in those attached to Furcellaria, independently of the treatment of the algae. The highest values of mortality (mean=14.4%; n=20) were found in eggs attached to Furcellaria that had decomposed over a six days’ period. This suggested that Furcellaria contain some chemical substances, which can cause mortality in herring embryos and the effect seems to be dependent on the state of decomposition of the algae.

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Correspondence to Marjut Rajasilta.

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Rajasilta, M., Laine, P. & Eklund, J. Mortality of Herring Eggs on Different Algal Substrates (Furcellaria spp. and Cladophora spp.) in the Baltic Sea – An Experimental Study. Hydrobiologia 554, 127–130 (2006).

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Key words:

  • Baltic herring
  • Cladophora
  • egg mortality
  • Furcellaria
  • substrate