Changes in the timing of spawning of Baltic cod : possible causes and implications for recruitment

Kai Wieland, Astrid Jarre, K. Horbowa

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Interannual variations in spawning time, defined as the peak in egg abundance, of cod (Gadus morhua) in the Bornholm Basin, Baltic Sea, were analysed. Effects of water temperature, size and age structure of the spawning stock, abundance of food, and timing of spawning in preceding years were studied as possible determinants of annual spawning time. During the 1970s and late 1980s, peak spawning took place between the end of April and mid-June. A remarkable shift in the timing of spawning to the end of July was observed in the 1990s. The key factors governing the timing of spawning are water temperature during the period of gonadal maturation, density-dependent processes related to the size of the spawning stock, and food availability. The age structure of the spawning stock is suggested to have an additional effect. A high proportion of first-time spawners and decreasing water temperature have caused progressively delayed spawning since the early 1990s. Late spawning involves several processes that are detrimental to the survival of the early lire stages. Recruitment in the mid-1990s was below what could be expected from spawning stock biomass and favourable hydrographic conditions. It is therefore suggested that the rebuilding of the Baltic cod stock could be improved by reduced fishing pressure in spring on early spawners. (C) 2000 International Council for the Exploration of the Sea.
Original languageEnglish
JournalICES Journal of Marine Science
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)452-464
Publication statusPublished - 2000


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