Recruitment of lesser sandeel Ammodytes marinus in relation to density dependence and zooplankton composition

M. van Deurs, R. van Hal, M.T. Tomczak, S.H. Jonasdottir, P. Dolmer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)


Recent recruitment failure of lesser sandeel Ammodytes marinus, a key prey fish in the North Sea, followed by several years of low spawning stock biomass, prompted us to investigate factors influencing the recruitment of this species. We tested 2 hypotheses that relate to ecological mechanisms of recruitment regulation in lesser sandeel: (1) a positive spawning stock¿recruitment relationship is decoupled in years associated with high abundances of age-1 sandeels and (2) the survival success of early larvae depends specifically on the abundance of Calanus finmarchicus and not C. helgolandicus. The findings of the present study supported both hypotheses and resulted in a multiple linear recruitment model with pronounced predictive capabilities. The model includes interactions between age-1 abundance and spawning stock biomass, plus the effect of C. finmarchicus abundance, and it explained around 65% of the inter-annual variation in recruitment in contrast to only 12% by a traditional Ricker curve. We argue that early egg production in C. finmarchicus supports the survival of larvae, and that climate-generated shifts in the Calanus species composition lead to a mismatch in timing between food availability and the early life history of lesser sandeels.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)249-258
JournalMarine Ecology Progress Series
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • north-atlantic oscillation
  • vertical-distribution
  • calanus-finmarchicus
  • c-helgolandicus
  • clupea-harengus
  • baltic sea
  • bottom-up
  • fish
  • raitt
  • food


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