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Survival of Arctic cod larvae (Boreogadus saida) in relation to sea ice and temperature in the Northeast Water Polynya (Greenland Sea)

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We tested the hypothesis that the survival of Arctic cod larvae (Boreogadus saida) is limited at sea ice cover >50% and sea surface temperature (SST) <0 °C. In 1993 in the Northeast Water Polynya, a spring cohort (14 May – 15 June) was hatched under heavy ice cover (58%–91%) and cold SST (–1.7 to –1.0 °C) and a summer cohort (21 June – 21 July) under low ice cover (4%–31%) and above-zero SST (1.5 to 3.9 °C). Consistent with the hypothesis, the spring cohort had almost completely vanished by age 10 days (first feeding stage), while the summer cohort survived well and dominated the population by the end of our sampling in early August. By then, the few surviving spring larvae were on average 5.7 mm longer than summer larvae (18.6 vs. 12.9 mm). A retrospective analysis of ice cover in the polynya (1979 to 2003) indicated that first-feeding larvae of the spring cohort encountered good survival conditions (sea ice <50% and SST >0 °C) in only 12% of the years compared with 80% for the summer cohort. The survival advantage provided by a larger size at the onset of Arctic winter could explain the evolutionary persistence of a spring cohort despite the low probability of initial survival.

Nous avons testé l'hypothèse que la survie des larves de morue arctique est faible à des couverts de glace >50% et des températures de surface (SST) <0 °C. Dans les Eaux du Nord-Est en 1993, une cohorte printanière (14 mai – 15 juin) a éclos sous une banquise dense (58 % – 91 %) et à des températures basses (–1,7 à –1,0 °C), alors qu'une cohorte estivale (21 juin – 21 juillet) émergeait sous un couvert de glace léger (4 % – 31 %) et à des températures au-dessus de zéro (1,5 à 3,9 °C). En accord avec l'hypothèse, la cohorte printanière avait pratiquement disparu à l'âge de 10 jours (fin de la première alimentation), alors que la cohorte estivale a bien survécu et dominait la population à la fin de notre échantillonnage au début d'août. À ce moment, les quelques larves printanières survivantes mesuraient en moyenne 5,7 mm de plus que les larves estivales (18,6 vs. 12,9 mm). Une analyse des conditions de glace dans les Eaux du Nord-Est de 1979 à 2003 indique que les larves à la première alimentation de la cohorte printanière ont connu de bonnes conditions de survie (i.e., couvert de glace <50 % et SST >0 °C) lors de 12 % des années seulement contre 80 % pour la cohorte estivale. Une meilleure survie conférée par une plus grande taille au début de l'hiver arctique pourrait expliquer la persistance évolutive d'une cohorte de printemps malgré une faible probabilité de survie initiale.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2006

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  • Published continuously since 1901 (under various titles), this monthly journal is the primary publishing vehicle for the multidisciplinary field of aquatic sciences. It publishes perspectives (syntheses, critiques, and re-evaluations), discussions (comments and replies), articles, and rapid communications, relating to current research on cells, organisms, populations, ecosystems, or processes that affect aquatic systems. The journal seeks to amplify, modify, question, or redirect accumulated knowledge in the field of fisheries and aquatic science. Occasional supplements are dedicated to single topics or to proceedings of international symposia.
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