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.

Zooplankton mortality considering variable spatial–temporal fish consumptions

VECTORS tested the feasibility of imposing mesozooplankton mortality into a 3D model based on estimated consumption rates of the dominant planktivorous fish in the North Sea-Kattegat area. The model used data on the spatial biomass distribution of Atlantic herring, horse mackerel, Atlantic mackerel, sandeel and sprat. Spatio-temporal indices of mortality were created based on the estimated biomasses and temperature-dependent ingestion rates. The fish larvae grazing pressure was obtained from a spatial, size-based larval community model. This work is part of an effort to improve the process representation in mortality terms in coupled models, which is a prerequisite for constructing more realistic end-to-end models that can provide an improved scientific basis for management of marine living resources.


Zooplanktivorous fish consumption is shaping the zooplankton community on spatial, seasonal and inter-annually scales and therefore important to consider in the structure and function of food webs.

The applied fish consumption in the model changed the temporal and spatial patterns of mesozooplankton biomass, production and mortality in comparison with the reference scenario using a constant mortality of zooplankton biomass per day. The annual-averaged mortality of mesozooplankton due to fish consumption was estimated to 36±17% of total mortality with a much higher inter-annual variability than for the reference scenario. This novel approach provides more realistic mortalities by integrating the variability in fish community consumption rates on lower trophic levels in the food web.

Relevance for Policy:
  • Marine Strategy Framework Directive
Data availability:

Data used: Model data created

Where it is held: AU/NERI and DTU Aqua

Contact: Marie Maar,

Availability: Model data on lower trophic levels can be obtained by contact with Marie Maar, fish model data with Asbjørn Christensen (

Lead Author:

Marie Maar
Aarhus Universitet (NERI)
Date of research: October 2014

Related articles:

Changes in the upper trophic level: impact on fish

Cod, recruitment, temperature and zooplankton

Functional responses of herring and sprat to prey 

Modelling future scenarios of biogeochemistry 

OSMOSE - North Sea

Population dynamics of sprat in the Baltic Sea 

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The content of this website may be subject to copyright, if you wish to use any of the information or figures please contact the attributed author(s).
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no 266445
© Vectors 2015. Coordinated by Plymouth Marine Laboratory.