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Spatially structured interactions between a migratory pelagic predator, the Norwegian spring-spawning herring Clupea harengus L., and its zooplankton prey

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Spring-spawning herring Clupea harengus was patchily distributed over large parts of the Norwegian Sea in May 1995–2005, during the early phase of the annual feeding migration. Overall, herring tended to be found in areas with intermediate biomasses of zooplankton prey, intermediate water temperatures and relatively high salinities. Herring had more food in their stomachs in areas of relatively low water temperature and high herring abundance. Hydrographical conditions revealed that herring was feeding mainly within Atlantic water masses, and more intensely in western and northern regions of the Norwegian Sea. Zooplankton biomass was patchily distributed, and was generally higher towards the western parts of the Norwegian Sea. Here, zooplankton biomass in yeari+1 was also negatively associated with herring spawning stock biomass in yeari, while there was no evidence for such an association in the eastern region; indicating that herring may have a geographically structured ‘top–down’ effect on the recruitment of its zooplankton prey. The fact that herring was not typically associated with the areas containing the greatest zooplankton biomasses may reflect that the fish had not yet reached the most profitable feeding grounds or alternatively that herring was depleting zooplankton biomass.
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Keywords: Norwegian Sea; feeding migration; herring; spatial structure; zooplankton

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: 1: Institute of Marine Research, P. O. Box 1870 Nordnes, 5817 Bergen, Norway 2: Department of Biology, University of Oslo, P. O. Box 1066 Blindern, 0316 Oslo, Norway

Publication date: 2007-03-01

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