Recruitment variability in Baltic Sea sprat (Sprattus sprattus) is tightly coupled to temperature and transport patterns affecting the larval and early juvenile stages

H. Baumann, H. H. Hinrichsen, C. Möllmann, F. W. Köster, A. M. Malzahn, A. Temming

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Recruitment patterns of Baltic Sea sprat (Sprattus sprattus) were correlated to time series of (i) month- and depth-specific temperature conditions and (ii) larval drift patterns inferred from long-term Lagrangian particle simulations. From the latter, we derived an index that likely reflected the variable degree of annual larval transport from the central, deep spawning basins to the shallow coastal areas of the Baltic Sea. The drift index was significantly (P <0.001) correlated to sprat recruitment success and explained, together with sprat spawning stock biomass, 82% of the overall variability between 1979 and 2003. Years of strong larval displacement towards southern and eastern Baltic coasts corresponded to relative recruitment failure, while years of retention within the deep basins were associated with relative recruitment success. The strongest correlation between temperature and recruitment occurred during August in surface waters, explaining 73% of the overall variability. Together, the two approaches advocate that new year classes of Baltic sprat are predominantly composed of individuals born late in the season and are determined in strength mainly by processes acting during the late larval and early juvenile stages. However, prior to be included in recruitment predictions, the biological mechanisms underlying these strong correlations may need to be better resolved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2191-2201
Number of pages11
JournalCanadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2006


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science

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