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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 511:165-180 (2014)  -  DOI:

Characteristics of juvenile survivors reveal  spatio-temporal differences in early life stage survival of Baltic cod

B. Huwer1,2,*, H. H. Hinrichsen3, U. Böttcher4, R. Voss5, F. Köster

1Technical University of Denmark, National Institute of Aquatic Resources, Charlottenlund Castle, Jægersborg Allé 1, 2920 Charlottenlund, Denmark
2Department of Biological Sciences, Marine Ecology, Aarhus University, Ole Worms Allé 1, 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark
3Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, GEOMAR, Düsternbrooker Weg 20, 24105 Kiel, Germany
4Thünen-Institute of Baltic Sea Fisheries, Alter Hafen Süd, 18069 Rostock, Germany
5Sustainable Fisheries, Department of Economics, University of Kiel, Wilhelm-Seelig-Platz 1, 24105 Kiel, Germany
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: The spatio-temporal origin of surviving juvenile Baltic cod Gadus morhua was investigated by coupling age information from otolith microstructure analysis and hydrodynamic modeling, which allowed backtracking of drift routes in time and space. The suitability of hydrodynamic modeling for drift simulations of early life stages of Baltic cod up to the pelagic juvenile stage was validated by comparing model simulations with the catch distribution from a survey targeting pelagic juveniles, and mortality rates and hatch date distributions of pelagic and demersal juveniles were estimated. Hatch dates and hatch locations of juvenile survivors showed distinct patterns which did not agree well with the abundance and spatial distribution of eggs, suggesting marked spatio-temporal differences in larval survival. The good agreement of the spatio-temporal origin of survivors from this field investigation with previous modeling studies on the survival chances of early-stage larvae and with general spatio-temporal patterns of larval prey availability suggests that differences in survival are related to food availability during the early larval stage. Results are discussed in relation to the recruitment process of Baltic cod, in particular with respect to the critical period and match-mismatch hypotheses, and to possible implications for the placement of a Marine Protected Area which was established to ensure undisturbed spawning of Baltic cod.

KEY WORDS: Recruitment · Critical period hypothesis · Match-mismatch hypothesis · Mortality rate · Hydrodynamic modeling · Otolith · Hatch date · Marine Protected Area · Gadus morhua

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Cite this article as: Huwer B, Hinrichsen HH, Böttcher U, Voss R, Köster F (2014) Characteristics of juvenile survivors reveal  spatio-temporal differences in early life stage survival of Baltic cod. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 511:165-180.

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