Vertical migration of Norwegian spring-spawning herring larvae in relation to predator and prey distribution

Ana Sofia Ferreira, Erling Kre Stenevik, Knut Wiik Vollset, Rolf Korneliussen, Arild Folkvord

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


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 sizedependent 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 predatorprey overlap plots suggest that krillmost 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
Original languageEnglish
JournalMarine Biology Research
Issue number7
Pages (from-to)605-614
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • SIZE
  • Vertical migrations
  • Clupea harengus
  • predator-prey interactions
  • fish larvae
  • Norwegian coast Arctic Ocean
  • Sklinna bank Arctic Ocean
  • behavioral response
  • biological property
  • diel vertical migration pattern
  • physical property
  • predator-prey interaction
  • species distribution
  • Crustacea Arthropoda Invertebrata Animalia (Animals, Arthropods, Crustaceans, Invertebrates) - Copepoda [75110] copepod common
  • Crustacea Arthropoda Invertebrata Animalia (Animals, Arthropods, Crustaceans, Invertebrates) - Malacostraca [75112] krill common
  • Pisces Vertebrata Chordata Animalia (Animals, Chordates, Fish, Nonhuman Vertebrates, Vertebrates) - Osteichthyes [85206] Clupea harengus species Norwegian spring spawning herring common larva
  • 07502, Ecology: environmental biology - General and methods
  • 07508, Ecology: environmental biology - Animal
  • 07512, Ecology: environmental biology - Oceanography
  • 25502, Development and Embryology - General and descriptive
  • 62800, Animal distribution
  • 64054, Invertebrata:comparative, experimental morphology, physiology and pathology - Arthropoda: crustacea
  • Ecology, Environmental Sciences
  • Population Studies
  • depth-stratified multisampling device field equipment
  • Matlab algorithm mathematical and computer techniques
  • Biogeography
  • Marine Ecology
  • algorithm
  • bioacoustics
  • clupeoid
  • crustacean
  • feeding
  • larva
  • light availability
  • software
  • spawning
  • thermocline
  • vertical distribution
  • vertical migration
  • water column
  • zooplankton
  • Arctic Ocean
  • Norwegian Sea
  • Clupeidae
  • Copepoda
  • Euphausiacea

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