Where is the fat fish? Seasonal differences in energy profiles in Atlantic cod

Master Thesis subject (30 ECTS)
Atlantic cod, as many other marine fish species, performs yearly migrations from feeding to spawning habitats. From cod occurring in the Belgian part of the North Sea, it is known that in summer they are located at their offshore feeding grounds (e.g. shipwrecks and offshore wind farms). In wintertime, they migrate towards the coastal and estuarine areas. Although these migrations are relatively well documented, the main reasons for these movements are far less clear. Possible drivers for these migrations are seasonal changes in food availability, reproduction, … Simultaneously, cod shows seasonal patterns in growth and condition influenced by periods of energy accumulation and depletion, which is linked to the allocation of energy to feeding, maturation, reproduction and migration. In addition, growth and condition are also governed by the availability and quality of the prey species. By means of up-to-date biochemical techniques such as fatty acid profiling, we aim to investigate seasonal differences in energy allocation in Atlantic cod, linked to migration, maturation and prey availability. In addition, the obtained energy levels will be linked to the prey availability and stomach analyses. The outcome of this thesis will contribute to a better understanding of the reasons for the seasonal migrations of Atlantic cod. Next to stomach analyses and biochemical analysis (quantification of protein, carbohydrate and lipid content, fatty acid profiling), the thesis work will also include active participation in sampling of cod in different locations (coastal, offshore) in the Belgian Part of the North Sea. The lab work will be conducted at the Marine Biology Research Group (UGent).
Number of students: 
academic year: 
Contact person email: 
contact person first name: 
Jan Reubens
Other people involved: 
Prof. Dr. Marleen De Troch (UGent/ Marbiol)
Reference Number: RP-34502