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Marie Savina, Geneviève Lacroix and Kevin Ruddick (2010)

Modelling the transport of common sole larvae in the Southern North Sea: influence of hydrodynamics and larval vertical movements.

Journal of Marine Systems, 81:86-98.

In the present work we used a particle-tracking model coupled to a 3D hydrodynamic model to study the combined effect of hydrodynamic variability and active vertical movements on the transport of sole larvae in the southern North Sea. Larval transport from the 6 main spawning grounds was simulated during 40 day periods starting on 2 plausible spawning dates, the 15/04 and the 01/05, during 2 years, 1995 and 1996. In addition to a “passive” behaviour, 3 types of active vertical movements inspired from previous studies have been tested: (1) Eggs and early larvae float in the surface waters, late larvae migrate toward the bottom and stay there until the end of the simulation; (2 and 3) Eggs float in the surface waters, early larvae perform diel vertical migrations in the surface waters, and (2) Late larvae perform diel vertical migrations in the bottom waters until the end of the simulation; or (3) Late larvae perform tidally synchronised vertical migrations in the bottom waters until the end of the simulation. These behaviours have been implemented in the model with vertical migration rates, positive or negative, which can account for buoyancy or real swimming activity. Variations in larval transport were analysed in terms of mean trajectories, final larvae distribution, larval retention above nurseries, and connectivity. Results suggest that the variations in larval retention above nurseries due to the varying hydrodynamic conditions are not consistent in space i.e. not the same for all the spawning sites. The effect of active vertical movements on larval transport is also not consistent in space: Effects of active vertical movements include decreased retention above nurseries, decreased transport and/or decreased horizontal dispersion of larvae through reduced vertical shear (depending on the zone). The variability in larval retention due to hydrodynamic variability is higher than variability due to differences in the behaviour of larvae. In terms of connectivity, exchanges of larvae between the 6 areas considered are moderate: 10 connections happened out of the 30 possible, and the amount of larvae exchanged is much lower than the amount of larvae retained except in a few cases. This is not incompatible with the possible existence of subpopulations of sole in the Eastern Channel and southern North Sea.
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