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Characterisation of juvenile flatfish habitats in the Baltic Sea
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Biology, Department of Ecology and Genetics, Limnology.
2009 (English)In: Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, ISSN 0272-7714, E-ISSN 1096-0015, Vol. 82, no 2, 294-300 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Survival and growth of the earliest life-stages is considered a key factor in determining the abundance of many marine fish species. For flatfishes, the availability of high quality nursery areas is essential for successful recruitment. Regarding the Baltic Sea, there are large gaps in knowledge on factors that influence the distribution of flatfishes during this sensitive stage. To identify the characteristics of important nursery areas in the Baltic for flounder (Platichthys flesus) and turbot (Psetta maxima), a field survey with push net sampling was conducted in the northern Baltic proper during autumn 2006. The sampling stations were stratified to cover several different habitat types defined by substrate and wave exposure. Apart from density of young-of-the-year (YOY) flatfishes, a number of ecological characteristics of the habitat were recorded. Physical habitat variables included substrate type, salinity, depth, turbidity, vegetation and habitat structure. Variables describing biotic processes, such as prey availability and abundance of competitors, were also sampled. The relationships between the spatial distribution of species and these ecological characteristics were fitted to presence/absence data of juvenile flatfish using generalized additive models (GAM). The best habitat descriptors for flounder in order of contribution were: substrate, habitat structure, salinity, wave exposure and occurrence of filamentous algae. Positive effects of increasing wave exposure, salinity and structure were detected while a high cover of filamentous algae had a negative effect. Sand and gravel were preferred over soft and stony substrates. For turbot the best habitat descriptors in order of contribution were: occurrence of filamentous algae, substrate and turbidity. Turbot showed a preference for areas with a low cover of filamentous algae, high turbidity and sandy substrate. Prey availability and abundance of competitors were not included in the models, indicating that the distribution of flatfishes at the scales studied (tens of kilometres) is mainly governed by physical habitat properties. These results constitute the basis for future efforts on mapping of essential flatfish habitats in the Baltic Sea.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2009. Vol. 82, no 2, 294-300 p.
Keyword [en]
habitat, Baltic Sea, Platichthys flesus, Psetta maxima, modelling
National Category
Biological Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-111603DOI: 10.1016/j.ecss.2009.01.012OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-111603DiVA: diva2:281822
Available from: 2009-12-17 Created: 2009-12-17 Last updated: 2011-05-18Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Spatial Modelling of Coastal Fish – Methods and Applications
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Spatial Modelling of Coastal Fish – Methods and Applications
2010 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Environmental factors influence species and habitats on multiple scales creating a mosaic of distribution patterns. Studying factors shaping these patterns are central to our understanding of population dynamics and ultimately ecosystem functioning. Information on the distribution of resources and conservation values are also highly needed in marine management as coastal areas are increasingly influenced by human activities.

In this thesis, large-scale field data is used to explore how strong environmental gradients found on multiple scales in the coastal areas of the Baltic Sea influence fish habitats. The underlying concepts are based in the field of species distribution modelling, whereby habitat maps can be produced using environmental layers in a geographic information system. Distribution modelling is further used to address both ecological and applied questions by examining effects of habitat limitation on fish population sizes and to evaluate management actions aimed at habitat conservation.

I show that specific habitat requirements for fish species of both freshwater and marine origin can be described using environmental variables and that species-environment relationships can be used to predict the distribution of early life-stages of fish in the Baltic Sea archipelagos. Further, predicted habitat availability of a specific life-stage was directly related to adult population size of Eurasian perch Perca fluviatilis, signifying that the abundance of large predatory fish can be limited by specific recruitment habitats. Lastly, by predicting the distribution of an assemblage of coastal fish species and their associated habitats, an assessment of a network of marine protected areas was performed. Results revealed large gaps in the current network and identified areas suitable for future protection. By demonstrating how current habitat protection can be improved by including critical habitats for coastal fish population sizes this thesis points to the benefits of integrating nature conservation and fisheries management.

Based on these findings I conclude that species distribution modelling provides a suitable analytical framework for assessing the habitat requirements of organisms. An increased understanding of habitat-population relationships and an ability to accurately map ecologically important features will be of great value for an ecosystem-based marine management. ­



Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2010. 43 p.
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Science and Technology, ISSN 1651-6214 ; 779
habitat, niche, species distribution modelling, juvenile, fish, larvae, spawning
National Category
Ecology Natural Sciences Ecology Biological Sciences
Research subject
Biology with specialization in Limnology; Biology with specialization in Animal Ecology; Limnology
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-132620 (URN)978-91-554-7928-2 (ISBN)
Public defence
2010-12-10, Friessalen, Evolutionary Biology Centre (EBC), Uppsala University, Norbyvägen 18, 752 36 Uppsala, Uppsala, 10:00 (English)
Felaktigt tryckt som Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Science and Technology 709Available from: 2010-11-19 Created: 2010-10-22 Last updated: 2011-03-21Bibliographically approved

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