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Aquatic Biology

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AB 18:197-207 (2013)  -  DOI:

Individual behaviour of Baltic cod Gadus morhua in relation to sex and reproductive state

B. Nielsen, K. Hüssy*, S. Neuenfeldt, J. Tomkiewicz, J. W. Behrens, K. H. Andersen

National Institute of Aquatic Resources, Technical University of Denmark, 2920 Charlottenlund, Denmark
*Corresponding author. Email:

ABSTRACT: Information from data storage tags (DSTs) is conventionally used to infer movement patterns or reveal characteristics (e.g. temperature or salinity) of the environment surrounding tagged fish. Here we link data derived from DSTs with the reproductive state of tagged fish. Individual vertical activity of adult male and female Atlantic cod Gadus morhua L. in the Bornholm Basin was derived from DST measures and related to the individual histologically determined reproductive phase. Spawning migrations were identified by movements towards deeper and more saline waters. No difference was observed between sexes in the timing of the onset of migration and the duration of migration from feeding grounds to the spawning area. While there was no significant difference in duration of the spawning period between females and males, the histological characteristics suggest that females finish spawning before males. Irrespective of gender, vertical swimming activity was most pronounced during spawning, with descents towards the bottom dominating the movements. During spawning, males stayed significantly deeper than females. In conclusion, the present results suggest that initiation of spawning migration and duration of the spawning period differ between sexes, as does the level of activity during spawning events. Not all individuals followed the general pattern; a considerable number of individuals were found to spawn in shallow water in the Arkona Basin, and juvenile fish undertook the migration without spawning.

KEY WORDS: Baltic cod · Vertical migration · Reproduction · Spawning migration

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Cite this article as: Nielsen B, Hüssy K, Neuenfeldt S, Tomkiewicz J, Behrens JW, Andersen KH (2013) Individual behaviour of Baltic cod Gadus morhua in relation to sex and reproductive state. Aquat Biol 18:197-207.

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