Spatio-temporal dynamics of cod nursery areas in the Baltic Sea

Hans-Harald Hinrichsen, B. von Dewitz, M. Lehmann, U. Bergström, Karin Hüssy

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In this study the drift of eastern Baltic cod larvae and juveniles spawned within the historical eastern Baltic cod spawning grounds was investigated by detailed drift model simulations for the years 1971–2010, to examine the spatio-temporal dynamics of environmental suitability in the nursery areas of juvenile cod settlement. The results of the long-term model scenario runs, where juvenile cod were treated as simulated passively drifting particles, enabled us to find strong indications for long-term variations of settlement and potentially the reproduction success of the historically important eastern Baltic cod nursery grounds. Only low proportions of juveniles hatched in the Arkona Basin and in the Gotland Basin were able to settle in their respective spawning ground. Ocean currents were either unfavorable for the juveniles to reach suitable habitats or transported the juveniles to nursery grounds of neighboring subdivisions. Juveniles which hatched in the Bornholm Basin were most widely dispersed and showed the highest settlement probability, while the second highest settlement probability and horizontal dispersal was observed for juveniles originating from the Gdansk Deep. In a long-term perspective, wind-driven transport of larvae/juveniles positively affected the settlement success predominately in the Bornholm Basin and in the Bay of Gdansk. The Bornholm Basin has the potential to contribute on average 54% and the Bay of Gdansk 11% to the production of juveniles in the Baltic Sea. Furthermore, transport of juveniles surviving to the age of settlement with origin in the Bornholm Basin contributed on average 13 and 11% to the total settlement in the Arkona Basin and in the Gdansk Deep, respectively. The time-series of the simulated occupied juvenile cod habitat in the Bornholm Basin and in the Gdansk Deep showed a similar declining trend as the Fulton's K condition factor of demersal 1-group cod, which may confirm the importance of oxygen-dependent habitat availability and its effect on density dependence as a process relevant for recruitment success.
Original languageEnglish
JournalProgress in Oceanography
Pages (from-to)28-40
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Ecology and Ecosystems
  • Seawater, Tides and Waves
  • Societies and Institutions
  • Ecosystems
  • Ocean currents
  • Density dependence
  • Habitat availability
  • Long-term models
  • Long-term perspective
  • Spatio-temporal dynamics
  • Spawning grounds
  • Suitable habitat
  • Wind-driven transport
  • Societies and institutions


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