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Quantitative molecular detection of larval Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus) in stomach contents of Atlantic mackerel (Scomber scombrus) marks regions of predation pressure


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Allan, BJM, Ray, JL, Tiedemann, M, Komyakova, V ORCID: 0000-0003-3755-1546, Vikebo, F, Skaar, KS, Stiasny, MH, Folkvord, A, Nash, RDM, Stenevik, EK and Kjesbu, OS 2021 , 'Quantitative molecular detection of larval Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus) in stomach contents of Atlantic mackerel (Scomber scombrus) marks regions of predation pressure' , Scientific Reports, vol. 11 , pp. 1-11 , doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-84545-7.

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Mortality rates in the early life-history stages of fishes are generally high yet identifying the causes remain unclear. Faltering recruitment rates of Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus) in the Norwegian Sea indicate a need to identify which mortality factors influence larval herring survival. Previous research suggests that increased predation pressure by Atlantic mackerel (Scomber scombrus) may contribute to the disconnect between spawning stock biomass and recruitment. To quantify the contribution of predation pressure by Atlantic mackerel to herring larval mortality, two research cruises were conducted within a probable “hot spot” (67–72° N) for intensified mackerel predation based on particle drift simulations. Mackerel stomach contents were analysed for herring larvae content using droplet digital polymerase chain reaction (ddPCR) with a quantitative molecular detection assay specific for herring. The ddPCR results demonstrate clear predation by mackerel on herring larvae and also suggest that the alternative use of visual examination may give misleading results. Our results show that mackerel should be considered a potentially important predator on herring larvae. The quantitative molecular assay presented here shows great promise as an efficient and specific tool to correctly identify and quantify predation pressure on early life-history stages of fishes.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Allan, BJM and Ray, JL and Tiedemann, M and Komyakova, V and Vikebo, F and Skaar, KS and Stiasny, MH and Folkvord, A and Nash, RDM and Stenevik, EK and Kjesbu, OS
Keywords: predation, Atlantic herring, Atlantic mackerel, molecular detection
Journal or Publication Title: Scientific Reports
Publisher: Nature Publishing Group
ISSN: 2045-2322
DOI / ID Number: 10.1038/s41598-021-84545-7
Copyright Information:

© The Author(s) 2021. Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) License, ( which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made.

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