Trends in sandeel growth and abundance off the east coast of Scotland

Alan MacDonald, Douglas C. Speirs, Simon P. R. Greenstreet, Philip Boulcott, Michael R. Heath

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Sandeels Ammodytes marinus are a crucial forage fish species in the North Sea, transferring zooplankton energy to higher trophic levels. However, there has been a sustained decline in sandeel abundance in the northwestern North Sea since 2000. Here we use field data to analyze year-to-year changes in A. marinus growth rate between 1997 and 2009 and assess whether variation in growth rate corresponded with variation in abundance. The signature of the reduction in abundance between 2000 and 2009 was a decline in age 1 sandeels, while no other age class declined. Analysis of age-length data showed that the decline in abundance coincided with a period of low growth. Growth performance indexes were correlated with zooplankton and phytoplankton biomass but not temperature. Further, we observed a significant correlation between larval growth rate and 0-group sandeel length during a period when hatch dates were relatively fixed; suggesting recent changes in length were influenced by food availability.
LanguageEnglish
Article number201
Number of pages12
JournalFrontiers in Marine Science
Volume6
Issue numberAPR
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 26 Apr 2019

Fingerprint

Scotland
Coastal zones
North Sea
coasts
coast
zooplankton
Hatches
Ammodytes
Phytoplankton
Fish
food availability
age structure
growth performance
Biomass
phytoplankton
age class
Availability
forage
trophic level
biomass

Keywords

  • North Sea
  • sandeels
  • growth
  • survival
  • seabirds

Cite this

MacDonald, Alan ; Speirs, Douglas C. ; Greenstreet, Simon P. R. ; Boulcott, Philip ; Heath, Michael R. / Trends in sandeel growth and abundance off the east coast of Scotland. In: Frontiers in Marine Science. 2019 ; Vol. 6, No. APR.
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Trends in sandeel growth and abundance off the east coast of Scotland. / MacDonald, Alan; Speirs, Douglas C.; Greenstreet, Simon P. R.; Boulcott, Philip; Heath, Michael R.

In: Frontiers in Marine Science, Vol. 6, No. APR, 201, 26.04.2019.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Trends in sandeel growth and abundance off the east coast of Scotland

AU - MacDonald, Alan

AU - Speirs, Douglas C.

AU - Greenstreet, Simon P. R.

AU - Boulcott, Philip

AU - Heath, Michael R.

PY - 2019/4/26

Y1 - 2019/4/26

N2 - Sandeels Ammodytes marinus are a crucial forage fish species in the North Sea, transferring zooplankton energy to higher trophic levels. However, there has been a sustained decline in sandeel abundance in the northwestern North Sea since 2000. Here we use field data to analyze year-to-year changes in A. marinus growth rate between 1997 and 2009 and assess whether variation in growth rate corresponded with variation in abundance. The signature of the reduction in abundance between 2000 and 2009 was a decline in age 1 sandeels, while no other age class declined. Analysis of age-length data showed that the decline in abundance coincided with a period of low growth. Growth performance indexes were correlated with zooplankton and phytoplankton biomass but not temperature. Further, we observed a significant correlation between larval growth rate and 0-group sandeel length during a period when hatch dates were relatively fixed; suggesting recent changes in length were influenced by food availability.

AB - Sandeels Ammodytes marinus are a crucial forage fish species in the North Sea, transferring zooplankton energy to higher trophic levels. However, there has been a sustained decline in sandeel abundance in the northwestern North Sea since 2000. Here we use field data to analyze year-to-year changes in A. marinus growth rate between 1997 and 2009 and assess whether variation in growth rate corresponded with variation in abundance. The signature of the reduction in abundance between 2000 and 2009 was a decline in age 1 sandeels, while no other age class declined. Analysis of age-length data showed that the decline in abundance coincided with a period of low growth. Growth performance indexes were correlated with zooplankton and phytoplankton biomass but not temperature. Further, we observed a significant correlation between larval growth rate and 0-group sandeel length during a period when hatch dates were relatively fixed; suggesting recent changes in length were influenced by food availability.

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KW - sandeels

KW - growth

KW - survival

KW - seabirds

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