Egg size and density estimates for three gadoids in Icelandic waters and their implications for the vertical distribution of eggs along a stratified water column


The vertical distribution of fish eggs can have important consequences for recruitment through its influence on dispersal trajectories and thus connectivity between spawning and nursery locations. Egg density and size are key parameters for the modelling of vertical egg distributions, both of which show variation at the species level, as well as between and within individuals (i.e., through ontogeny). We conducted laboratory experiments on the eggs of wild-spawning cod, haddock and saithe from Icelandic waters to estimate these parameters throughout ontogeny. Subsequently, this information was used in a 1-dimensional model to generate vertical distributions for each species along a stratified water column. Saithe eggs were significantly smaller and less dense than cod and haddock eggs. Cod eggs were slightly denser than haddock eggs in the first ontogenetic stage but statistically similar in the later stages. No significant differences were found between the egg diameters of cod and haddock. For each species, both parameters changed significantly through ontogeny. Yet despite these significant results, the 1-d model suggests that neither the interspecific nor ontogenetic differences would have a significant impact on the vertical egg distributions. Only under highly stratified conditions, when buoyancy is minimised due to the freshwater layer, do distributional differences become evident. In such situations, incorporating intraspecific variation in egg density into the model substantially reduced the distributional differences and this is highlighted as an important consideration for the modelling of pelagic vertical egg distributions.
QR Code: Link to publication