Linking movement behaviour of Atlantic cod to the North Sea environment using acoustic telemetry

Acoustic telemetry is widely used in marine scientific research to observe the movement behaviour of aquatic animals. In this study, a newly installed passive acoustic monitoring system (Vemco VR2W) in the Belgian and Dutch part of the North Sea revealed movement patterns of 9 tagged Atlantic cod from July 2014 until February 2015. In summer, cod was mainly present at artificial reefs in the Belgian part of the North Sea (BPNS) along with high site fidelity. Atlantic cod was migrating towards the Western Scheldt estuary in the Netherlands in autumn. Individual fishes had a distinct home range in the Western Scheldt and were travelling back to the open sea in January and February. The analysis of hourly detections of Atlantic cod showed an increasing activity at twilight in summer when cod resided at artificial reefs. Peaks at crepuscular hours diminished in winter while Atlantic cod was sighted in the Western Scheldt. Additionally, environmental parameters were linked to the movement data of cod and uncovered a temperature range limit of 17 °C. Other abiotic factors such as current velocity, salinity and moon cycles could be only associated with influencing the detection range of the receivers of the fish tracking network.

Promotor(s) & Supervisor: Jan Reubens

ISCED Categories

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0511 - Biology", "0521 - Ecology", "0831 - Fisheries