Vertical migration of Norwegian spring-spawning herring larvae in relation to predator and prey distribution
Ana Sofia Ferreira et al. in Marine Biology Research
Ana Sofia Ferreira, Erling Kåre Stenevik, Knut Wiik Vollset, Rolf Korneliussen & Arild Folkvord
A diel vertical migration (DVM) pattern of Norwegian spring spawning herring (Clupea harengus) larvae was investigated during 19 and 20 April 2009. Factors influencing DVM included physical and biological properties of the water column. Data on larvae, prey and predators were collected with a depth-stratified multisampling device, inshore of Sklinna bank, close to the Norwegian coast, while light conditions were calculated using a Matlab® algorithm. A type I DVM pattern (i.e. deep during daytime, shallow at night) was observed for herring larvae, mainly occurring above the thermocline. No size-dependent differences were observed for larval vertical positioning. The highest overlap in depth distribution with their main prey was observed during daytime, when larvae were distributed deeper in the water column. From acoustics and macroplankton trawl data, a type I DVM was also observed for krill, although their concentrations were relatively low in the area. Cumulative predator–prey overlap plots suggest that krill most likely forage on copepods and smaller organisms. During the day, larvae concentrate near the thermocline to feed, while they move towards the surface at dusk, possibly to use the remaining light to continuing feeding. During the night, when light levels were too low to feed, larvae spread out in the water column above the thermocline. This migration pattern reduces the overlap between larvae and potential predators such as krill, which also move higher up during nighttime. It is suggested that the pattern of herring larvae DVM is a behavioural response to active pursuit of prey.