, Volume 767, Issue 1, pp 125–135 | Cite as

Temperature-driven changes in early life-history stages influence the Gulf of Riga spring spawning herring (Clupea harengus m.) recruitment abundance

  • T. Arula
  • T. Raid
  • M. Simm
  • H. Ojaveer
Primary Research Paper


Processes occurring during early life-history stages influence the year-class abundance of marine fish. We found that the abundance of 1-year-old spring spawning herring is statistically significantly determined by the number of post-flexion herring larvae in the Gulf of Riga (Baltic Sea). The abundance of consecutive developmental stages of larvae: yolk-sac, pre-flexion, flexion and post-flexion strongly correlated with each other, indicating that factors which already influence the yolk-sac stage are important in determining the abundance of post-flexion herring larvae. Winter air temperature before spawning determined the timing of maximum abundance of pre-flexion herring larvae, but not their main prey: copepod nauplii, implying that different mechanisms governing major preconditions for the formation of year-class strength. The abundance of post-flexion larvae displayed a potential dome-shaped relationship with sea surface temperature experienced after hatching. We suggest that increased summer temperatures, which exceed the physiological optimum negatively, affect the survival of post-flexion herring larvae. Overall, future climate warming poses an additional risk to larval herring survival and this may lead to a reduction in those herring stock which rely on recruitment from shallow coastal areas.


Coastal area Baltic Sea Water temperature Prey Temporal overlap 



The authors would like to thank two anonymous reviewers and the editor for their comments that helped to improve the quality of the article. We are also very grateful to Catriona Clemmensen-Bockelmann and Matthias Paulsen for their valuable comments. Sally Clink kindly assisted us in language editing. We are grateful to Merje Kiitsak and Viktor Kajalainen for sorting the material and measuring larval fish length. This work was partially financed by the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research (grant SF0180005s10), the Estonian Research Council (grant IUT02-20) and the Estonian Science Foundation (grant 8747). The research leading to these results has also received funding from BONUS (INSPIRE and BIO-C3 projects), the joint Baltic Sea research and development programme (Art. 185), funded jointly from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for Research, Technological Development and Demonstration, and from the Estonian Research Council.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Estonian Marine InstituteUniversity of TartuPärnuEstonia
  2. 2.Estonian Marine InstituteUniversity of TartuTallinnEstonia

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