Fecundity, atresia, and spawning strategies of Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus)

C.J.G. van Damme, M. Dickey-Collas, A.D. Rijnsdorp, O.S. Kjesdu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus) have contrasting spawning strategies, with apparently genetically similar fish “choosing” different spawning seasons, different egg sizes, and different spawning areas. In the North Sea, both autumn- and winter-spawning herring share the same summer feeding area but have different spawning areas. Females of both spawning types start their oocyte development in April–May. Oocyte development is influenced by the body energy content; during the maturation cycle, fecundity is down-regulated through atresia in relation to the actual body condition. Hence, fecundity estimates must account for the relative time of sampling. The down-regulation over the whole maturation period is approximately 20% in autumn- and 50% in winter-spawning herring. The development of the oocytes is the same for both spawning strategies until autumn when autumn spawners spawn a larger number of small eggs. In winter spawners, oocyte development and down-regulation of fecundity continues, resulting in larger eggs and lower number spawned. In theory, autumn and winter spawners could therefore switch spawning strategies, indicating a high level of reproductive plasticity
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2130-2141
JournalCanadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • north-sea
  • reproductive strategies
  • potential fecundity
  • gadus-morhua
  • rapid method
  • irish sea
  • cod
  • populations
  • maturation
  • weight

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