Model for the Larval Dispersal of Sole in the North Sea



Solea larva, picture by Hans Hillewaert
Model for the Larval Dispersal of Sole in the North Sea
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PhD student Léo Barbut, from our Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, works on the sole larval dispersal in the North Sea. Sole (Solea solea) is a tasty fish with a high economic value, but there is still a lot we do not know about its life cycle, in particular its population dynamics.


Sole recruitment has a strong inter-annual variability, which is poorly correlated with the size of adult’s population. Among many fish taxa, including flatfish, the early life stages are critical in determining recruitment. The sole spawn in spring in the North Sea, eggs and larvae are then transported by the currents towards nurseries in coastal areas where the young fish can grow. It is possible to simulate the larval transport with a coupled hydrodynamics-biological model. However, it is difficult to obtain observations of life history traits needed for proper model parametrisation. Estimates may strongly influence the larval dispersal pattern simulated. Various assumptions about these traits are tested by comparing simulation results with field data.

This work is a first step towards the calibration, validation and improvement of sole larval dispersal model which will be used as a tool for management purposes.


Léo Barbut won an outstanding student presentation award for his poster “Integrating field data to parameterise a larval transport model of sole and improve knowledge on connectivity in the North Sea” at the ASLO 2015 Aquatic Sciences Meeting in Granada (Spain). 361 student presentations were evaluated.

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