Zooplankton mortality in 3D ecosystem modelling considering variable spatial–temporal fish consumptions in the North Sea

Marie Maar, Anna Rindorf, Eva Friis Møller, Asbjørn Christensen, Kristine S. Madsen, Mikael van Deurs

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We tested the feasibility of imposing mesozooplankton mortality into a 3D model based on estimated consumption rates of the dominant planktivorous fish in the North Sea-Kattegat area. The spatial biomass distribution of Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus), horse mackerel (Trachurus trachurus), Atlantic mackerel (Scomber scombrus), sandeel (Ammodytidae) and European sprat (Sprattus sprattus) was derived from quarterly scientific trawl surveys and Danish commercial catches. Spatio-temporal indices of mortality were created based on the estimated biomasses and ingestion rates from the literature. The fish larvae grazing pressure was obtained from a spatial, size-based larval community model. In this model, larvae, herring and sandeel were the most important fish predators on mesozooplankton, but these groups had different spatial and temporal (seasonal) distributions. Fish larvae were particularly dominant in the eastern and southern areas in early summer. Herring and sandeel had the highest consumption in the central and north-western areas and were more important in late summer. The fish index changed the perceived annual, seasonal and spatial patterns in modelled mesozooplankton biomass, production and mortality. In the present study, the index was kept relatively simple and can be further developed with respect to the description of fish as well carnivorous zooplankton ingestion rates. The data input required to create the fish index is i) planktivorous fish stock biomasses and ii) relative fish spawning distribution information and iii) physics (ocean currents and temperatures) for the region and situation of interest. The fish index seems promising as a realistic mortality term for lower trophic levels in 3D ecosystem models in areas with available data on fish stocks to improve management of marine resources
Original languageEnglish
JournalProgress in Oceanography
Pages (from-to)78-91
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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