Marine Science blog

An artist's view of the ecosystems we work on. Artwork: Glynn Gorick.

A blog from the CEES' Marine Ecology Group

two dell picture symbolysing cold years and warm years withe effect on cod and haddock
Published Aug. 10, 2020 12:16 PM

In the Boreal-Arctic seas, the two most abundant gadoid fish are the Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) and the haddock (Melanogrammus aeglefinus). Both tend to respond to climate warming by an abundance increase and a change of distribution. Are these changes affecting how they are interacting? Statistical analysis using a state-space threshold model of acoustic and trawl survey data on cod and haddock abundance indicates that the interaction is changing with sea temperature: the cod negatively affecting the haddock when sea temperature is over 4 °C.

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Published Oct. 24, 2019 4:13 PM

Climate warming is changing the timing of among others the reproduction for plankton or fish. Predators depend on an abundant prey supply to feed their young and insure that they survive. When the timing of the prey and the predator are not in synchrony the predator young cannot feed and are dying: there is a mismatch.

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Published Oct. 9, 2019 8:58 AM

Conservation efforts and management decisions on the living environment of our planet often rely on imperfect statistical models. Therefore, managers have to brace for the uncertainty associated with the model and study system i.e., set their acceptable risk level, to make some decisions. However, risk estimates themselves can often be biased. In a recent paper published in Nature communications we demonstrate that one can back-calculate the correct value of risk by combining data fitting with an extensive simulation–estimation procedure.

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Published Sep. 20, 2019 2:09 PM

A new pan-arctic study indicates that Calanus copepods do not necessarily descend deep for diapause in winter; instead, parts of the population remain active. Moreover, the deeper distribution of the larger and more conspicuous Calanus hyperboreus indicates that predation pressure is a key trigger for diapause at depth. In the central Arctic Ocean where visual predation pressure is lower, copepods might be relieved from the incentive to descend and can remain closer to the surface in winter.

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Published Sep. 6, 2019 1:00 AM

Extreme events in the marine environment, like marine heatwaves, are likely at least as important as changes in mean values for causing threats to biodiversity, with impacts on ecosystem services and consequences for human systems. The potential of human and natural systems to adapt to such changes remains unclear, but two recent articles in the high-impact journal PNAS look closer at the possibilities.

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Published Aug. 26, 2019 2:58 PM

Population abundance depends on production of young and survival of adults. Assessing the contribution of young production to population growth and identify the main drivers of its variability may help to identify appropriate stock management measures. What happens when several stocks, belonging to different trophic levels and habitats, as well as having different exploitation histories are sharing the same environment?

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Published July 12, 2019 8:06 AM

The Atlantic cod is one of the major predator in the Barents Sea estimated to consume over 5 million tonnes of fish in 2017. In a recent paper (Holt et al. 2019) we explore the diet of this species using a unique dataset encompassing 33 years of cod stomach sampling by Russian and Norwegian scientists. This time-series is the most comprehensive available cod diet dataset to date and is crucial in helping to answer ecologically important questions on what cod eat and why  it matters for predator-prey and food-web dynamics in the Barents Sea ecosystem. 

Published Apr. 30, 2019 11:26 AM

Climate effects on marine ecosystems are often projected as a bottom-up process. That is, the focus of the projections is often: How do changes in physical conditions and biogeochemical processes at lower trophic levels influence living conditions for fish and other organisms at higher trophic levels? However, this view ignores feedbacks between higher and lower trophic levels.  

Published Dec. 4, 2018 9:45 AM

Where the fish are spawning is of tremendous importance for the population (see our post) but also for the industry relying on it, especially since harvesting is often concentrated on fish that aggregate for to spawn. Climate change and harvesting are known to strongly affect the fish population with effect on the spawning location. In a recent paper (Langangen et al. Global Change Biology) we explore the question: “who is the culprit of spawning location change: Climate or fishing?”

Published May 7, 2018 10:28 AM

Many heavily fished fish stocks are dominated by young and small fish. The reason is simple: the chance to reach old age is small. If the fisheries selectively target large fish, the dominance of young and small fish becomes even larger. Such skewed age and size distributions can make the fish populations more sensitive to detrimental effects of oil spills.

Published Apr. 10, 2018 11:47 AM

Spawning migration is a prevalent phenomenon for the major fish stocks in the Barents Sea. While many of them migrate to the coast of Norway to spawn they are doing so to different areas. We have studied the Northeast Arctic haddock variability in spawning grounds to understand what drives the observed shifts over time.

Published Feb. 2, 2018 3:20 PM

In a study recently published in Ecology we find apparent competition between major zooplankton groups in a large marine ecosystem. Apparent competition is an indirect, negative interaction between two species or species groups mediated by a third species other than their prey.

Published Aug. 22, 2017 3:27 PM

Since Hjort in 1914 it is accepted that recruitment variation is a major source of variability in the biomass of adult fish. In a recent study published in Marine Ecology Progress Series (Durant & Hjermann 2017) we investigated how external forcing and age structure alter the effect of the year-to-year recruitment variability on population growth for some key fish species which occupy different trophic levels in an Arcto-boreal marine ecosystem.

Published Jan. 27, 2017 11:20 AM

High fishing pressure tends to lead to proportionally fewer old and large individuals in fish stocks. It is feared that these demographic changes make the fish stocks more sensitive to climate variability and change. Statistical analysis of long-term survey data on cod eggs throws new light on the possible mechanisms.

Published Nov. 8, 2016 9:49 AM

Spawning time and location are important factors affecting the reproductive cycle for migratory fish by potentially affecting offspring survival and growth. We examine this relationships by using a drift model for early life stages (eggs to age 1) of the Northeast Arctic cod combined with empirical estimates of spatial variation in mortality at two different life stages (Langangen et al. 2016).

Published Oct. 11, 2016 9:14 AM

The Marine Group of CEES was created in august 2005 as a platform where people with common interest meet and exchange ideas. In 2015 we were about 20 post-docs and PhDs financed on project money. I think it is time after more than a decade to look at the success and failure of our group, generally share experience, and maybe brag a little.

Published June 8, 2016 9:05 AM

Mass mortality events are events that cause elevated mortality that may reduce the population size over a short period. Such events are likely on the rise across the globe and for several taxa (Fey et al. 2015). We recently investigated how such events may affect the community of interacting species in the Barents Sea. For this investigation, we constructed a multi-species model of a key component of the Barents Sea ecosystem consisting of fish and zooplankton

Published May 2, 2016 9:50 AM

It is notoriously difficult to estimate mortality rates for zooplankton populations in the open ocean. In a new paper, Kvile and colleagues demonstrate that mortality estimation can be improved using a statistical regression approach (SRA) that takes into account advection and spatiotemporal trends in recruitment. Using this method on Calanus finmarchicus survey data from the Norwegian Sea–Barents Sea, they find indications of increased mortality for the oldest copepodite stage pair (CIV–CV), possibly reflecting higher predation pressure on larger copepodites.

Published Apr. 15, 2016 1:31 PM

Growing evidence suggests that the telomeres’ length (a non-coding DNA sequence localized at the end of the chromosomes) is related to individual breeding performances and survival rates in several species.