Marine Research Findings of the VECTORS Project

This website provides access to the research results of the VECTORS project, which can be used to support marine management decisions, policies and governance as well as future research and investment. VECTORS was a large scale project that brought together more than 200 expert researchers from 16 different countries. It examined the significant changes taking place in European seas, their causes, and the impacts they will have on society.

The missing link: tidal-influenced activity might close the migration triangle in brown shrimp

Brown shrimp Crangon crangon provide a valuable fishery in the southern North Sea with more than 600 Dutch, German, Danish and Belgian vessels involved. The complex life cycle and the short life span challenge not only biologists but also managers. The spatial migrations are not fully understood and as well as fluctuations in stock size. This study aimed at understanding how population dynamics might function and how the different life stages are spatially connected. Furthermore we tried to identify how a relatively immobile, small and predominantly benthic species can close its migration triangle between spawning and nursery areas in an area influenced by currents and high transport rates. Therefore we studied the behaviour of brown shrimps in the laboratory and included this behaviour in a model to investigate the transport of the shrimps different life stages.

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Brown shrimp are able to remain in the southern North Sea by migrating with the ebb flow towards against the prevailing currents and releasing offspring "upstream". There is mixing between shrimps that dwell in the southern North Sea but this specific behaviour might separate Danish from Dutch shrimp

In our study we found that brown shrimp (Crangon crangon) perform selective tidal transport and use an endogenous Zeitgeber that regulates this behaviour. We observed that shrimps collected in the field and monitored in the laboratory are always active during ebb tide. Including this behaviour in a drift model we found that this behaviour transports the juvenile stages to deeper areas and the adults towards the east and even deeper areas. If adults release their offspring in these areas they larvae are transported towards the coast close towards the areas where the adults started their migration. Selective tidal stream transport therefore provides a mechanism that allows the closing of a migration triangle and the retention of the population in one area.

Lead Author:

Marc Hufnagl
(marc.hufnagl@uninospam-hamburg.de)
University of Hamburg (UHAM)
Date of research: December 2013

Related articles:

Changes in the upper trophic level: impact on fish

Connectivity: plaice spawning and nursery areas 

Changes on stocks and management in saithe fishery 

Climate change: flatfish and shrimp fisheries 

Cod, recruitment, temperature and zooplankton

Could MPAs mitigate the effects of fishing? 

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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no 266445
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