Inter-annual and inter-specific differences in the drift of fish eggs and yolksac larvae in the North Sea: A biophysical modeling approach


  • Myron A. Peck Center for Marine and Climate Research, Institute of Hydrobiology and Fisheries Sgcience, University of Hambur
  • Wilfried Kühn Center for Marine and Climate Research, Institute of Oceanography, University of Hamburg
  • Hans-Harald Hinrichsen Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences at the University of Kiel (IfM GEOMAR)
  • Thomas Pohlmann Center for Marine and Climate Research, Institute of Oceanography, University of Hamburg



IBMs, marine fish, life history strategy, drift, temperature, water currents


We employed 3-D biophysical modeling and dispersion kernel analysis to explore inter-annual and inter-specific differences in the drift trajectories of eggs and yolksac larvae of plaice (Pleuronectes platessa), Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua), sprat (Sprattus sprattus) and horse mackerel (Trachurus trachurus) in the North Sea. In this region, these four species exhibit peak spawning during the boreal winter, late winter/early spring, late spring/early summer, and mid-summer respectively, but utilize the same spawning locations (our simulations included Dogger Bank, Southern Bight and the German Bight). Inter-annual differences in the temperature history, and an increase in the area of dispersion and final distribution at the end of the yolksac phase were more pronounced (and related to the North Atlantic Oscillation) for winter- and early spring-spawners compared to late spring/summer spawners. The progeny of the latter experienced the largest (up to 10-fold) inter-annual differences in drift distances, although absolute drift distances were modest (~2 to 30 km) when compared to those of the former (~ 20 to 130 km). Our results highlight the complex interplay that exists between the specific life history strategies of the different species and the impacts of the variability in (climate-driven) physical factors during the earliest life stages of marine fish.


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How to Cite

Peck MA, Kühn W, Hinrichsen H-H, Pohlmann T. Inter-annual and inter-specific differences in the drift of fish eggs and yolksac larvae in the North Sea: A biophysical modeling approach. scimar [Internet]. 2009Oct.30 [cited 2022Oct.3];73(S1):23-36. Available from: