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Research article2017Peer reviewed

Survival and dispersal variability of pelagic eggs and yolk-sac larvae of central and eastern baltic flounder (Platichthys flesus): application of biophysical models

Hinrichsen, Hans-Harald; Petereit, Christoph; Nissling, Anders; Wallin Kihlberg, Isa; Ustups, Didzis; Florin, Ann-Britt


A hydrodynamic model coupled with a Lagrangian particle tracking technique was utilized to simulate spatially and temporally resolved long-term environmentally related (i) size of habitat suitable for reproduction, (ii) egg/yolk-sac larval survival, (iii) separation of causes of mortality, and (iv) connectivity between spawning areas of Baltic flounder with pelagic eggs. Information on reproduction habitat requirements and mortality sources were obtained from field or laboratory studies. In our modelling study we only quantified physical processes generating heterogeneity in spatial distribution of eggs and yolk-sac larvae, as e.g. predation is not accounted for. The spatial extent of eggs and larvae represented as modelled particles is primarily determined by oxygen and salinity conditions. The reproduction habitat most suitable was determined for the Gdansk Deep, followed by the Bornholm Basin. Relatively low habitat suitability was obtained for the Arkona Basin and the Gotland Basin. The model runs also showed yolk-sac larval survival to be to a large extent affected by sedimentation. Eggs initially released in the Arkona Basin and Bornholm Basin are strongly affected by sedimentation compared with those released in the Gdansk Deep and Gotland Basin. Highest relative survival of eggs occurred in the Gdansk Deep and in the Bornholm Basin. Relatively low survival rates in the Gotland Basin were attributable to oxygen-dependent mortality. Oxygen content had almost no impact on survival in the Arkona Basin. For all spawning areas mortality caused by lethally low temperatures was only evident after severe winters. Buoyancy of eggs and yolk-sac larvae in relation to topographic features appear as a barrier for the transport of eggs and yolk-sac larvae and potentially limits the connectivity of early life stages between the different spawning areas.


connectivity; Egg buoyancy; environmental variability; Individual-Based modelling; mortality; retention vs. dispersal

Published in

ICES Journal of Marine Science
2017, Volume: 74, number: 1, pages: 41-55

        UKÄ Subject classification

        Fish and Aquacultural Science

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