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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 347:101-110 (2007)  -  DOI:

Vertical movements of North Sea cod

Victoria J. Hobson1,2,*, David Righton2, Julian D. Metcalfe2, Graeme C. Hays1

1Department of Biological Sciences, Institute of Environmental Sustainability, Swansea University, Singleton Park, Swansea SA2 8PP, UK
2Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, Lowestoft Laboratory, Pakefield Road, Lowestoft, Suffolk NR33 0HT, UK

ABSTRACT: Various air-breathing marine vertebrates such as seals, turtles and seabirds show distinct patterns of diving behaviour. For fish, the distinction between different vertical behaviours is often less clear-cut, as there are no surface intervals to differentiate between dives. Using data from acoustic tags (n = 23) and archival depth recorders attached to cod Gadus morhua (n = 92) in the southern North Sea, we developed a quantitative method of classifying vertical movements in order to facilitate an objective comparison of the behaviour of different individuals. This method expands the utilisation of data from data storage tags, with the potential for a better understanding of fish behaviour and enhanced individual based behaviour for improved ecosystem modelling. We found that cod were closely associated with the seabed for 90% of the time, although they showed distinct seasonal and spatial patterns in behaviour. For example, cod tagged in the southern North Sea exhibited high rates of vertical movement in spring and autumn that were probably associated with migration, while the vertical movements of resident cod in other areas were much less extensive and were probably related to foraging or spawning behaviours. The full reasons underlying spatial and temporal behavioural plasticity by cod in the North Sea warrant further investigation.

KEY WORDS: Time-depth recorder · Vertical movement · Satellite tracking · Tuna · Shark · Turtle

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Cite this article as: Hobson VJ, Righton D, Metcalfe JD, Hays GC (2007) Vertical movements of North Sea cod. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 347:101-110.

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