Open Access

Species assemblages of pelagic fish embryos in the southern North Sea between 1984 and 2000

  • Hein von Westernhagen1Email author,
  • Volkert Dethlefsen2,
  • Tim Bade2 and
  • Werner Wosniok3
Helgoland Marine Research200255:89

Received: 8 February 2001

Accepted: 6 November 2001

Published: 11 January 2002


The occurrence and abundance of the pelagic eggs of southern North Sea spring-spawning fish were analysed between 1984 and 2000. Species number varied between six (1986) and 14 (1999) and was positively correlated with sea surface temperature. With one exception, dab eggs were always the most abundant and usually highly dominant. Ranking of species depended on temperature, but no significant differences in ranking between years was discernible. Although with the increase in temperature in the 1990s a change in species assemblage was evident [species belonging to the boreal-Mediterranean (Lusitanian) group became more apparent in the species assemblage] this did not lead to an increased species diversity (Shannon Index) or a change in other community parameters. It appears that the recent developments regarding spawning stock biomass of commercial North Sea fish is reflected in the declining egg abundance of the respective commercial and larger species (i.e. cod, flounder, plaice) and an increase in abundance of the eggs of small species (i.e. long rough dab, rockling) over the years.

Dabs Fish eggs Pelagic fish North Sea Species assemblage