Recruitment processes in Baltic sprat – A re-evaluation of GLOBEC Germany hypotheses

Voss, Rüdiger, Peck, Myron A., Hinrichsen, Hans-Harald, Clemmesen, Catriona, Baumann, Hannes, Stepputtis, Daniel, Bernreuther, Matthias, Schmidt, Jörn, Temming, Axel and Köster, Fritz W. (2012) Recruitment processes in Baltic sprat – A re-evaluation of GLOBEC Germany hypotheses Progress in Oceanography, 107 . pp. 61-79. DOI 10.1016/j.pocean.2012.05.003.

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The GLOBEC Germany program (2002–2007) had the ambitious goal to resolve the processes impacting the recruitment dynamics of Baltic sprat (Sprattus sprattus L.) by examining various factors affecting early life history stages. At the start of the research program, a number of general recruitment hypotheses were formulated, i.e. focusing on (1) predation, (2) food availability, (3) physical parameters, (4) the impact of current systems, and finally (5) the importance of top-down vs bottom-up effects. The present study synthesizes the results of field sampling (2002 and 2003), laboratory experiments, and modeling studies to re-evaluate these hypotheses for the Baltic sprat stock. Recruitment success was quite different in the 2 years investigated. Despite a lower spawning stock biomass in 2003, the total number of recruits was almost 2-fold higher that year compared to 2002. The higher recruitment success in 2003 could be attributed to enhanced survival success during the post-larval/juvenile stage, a life phase that appears to be critical for recruitment dynamics. In the state of the Baltic ecosystem during the period of investigation, we consider bottom-up control (e.g. temperature, prey abundance) to be more important than top-down control (predation mortality). This ranking in importance does not vary seasonally. Prevailing water circulation patterns and the transport dynamics of larval cohorts have a strong influence on sprat recruitment success. Pronounced transport to coastal areas is detrimental for year-class strength particularly at high sprat stock sizes. A suggested mechanism is density-dependant regulation of survival via intra- and inter-specific competition for prey in coastal areas. A documented change in larval vertical migration behavior between the early 1990s and early 2000s increased the transport potential to the coast, strengthening the coupling between inter-annual differences in the magnitude and direction of wind-driven surface currents and year-to-year changes in reproductive success. However, due to the strong linkages and feed-back loops in the Baltic Sea food web, the most robust projections of the future strength of the Baltic sprat stock will need to take into account climate-driven changes in both abiotic (e.g., drift trajectories) and biotic (trophodynamic) factors. Although our understanding of processes affecting pre-recruit (larval) growth and survival has been advanced by the integrated research conducted within the GLOBEC Germany program, key mechanisms potentially affecting life stages outside of the spawning basins remain to be explored including the dynamics of coastal habitats of juveniles and the feeding and overwintering grounds of adults.
► Food limitation may contribute to the formation of seasonal ‘windows of survival’. ► Change in larval migration exalted the importance of transport. ► Temperature is the most important physical factor influencing sprat recruitment. ► Bottom-up control is more important than top-down control. ► Projected Baltic water temperature increase suggests higher sprat recruitment potential.

Document Type: Article
Additional Information: WOS:000312425500005
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB3 Marine Ecology > FB3-EV Evolutionary Ecology of Marine Fishes
OceanRep > The Future Ocean - Cluster of Excellence
Refereed: Yes
DOI etc.: 10.1016/j.pocean.2012.05.003
ISSN: 0079-6611
Projects: GLOBEC, FACTS, Fehmarn Belt Fish and Fisheries and related Environmental Investigations, Future Ocean
Date Deposited: 30 Aug 2012 12:47
Last Modified: 04 Oct 2016 13:04

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