Vertical migration in adult Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua)
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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We investigate the trade-offs associated with vertical migration and swimming speed of Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) using an adaptive individual-based model. Simulations with varying distribution and occurrence of prey, with and without swimbladder constraints, and visual predation were performed. Most simulations resulted in cod migrations between the bottom and pelagic zones. In simulations with high probability of encountering pelagic prey, the cod spent the daytime in the pelagic zone, moving to the bottom to feed only when no pelagic prey were encountered. At night the cod stayed in the pelagic zone to attain neutral buoyancy. In simulations with low occurrence of pelagic prey or high visual predation pressure, the cod remained at the bottom feeding on the consistently present benthic prey. If the pelagic prey occurred far above the sea floor or there were no benthic prey, the cod abandoned all bottom contact. The study thus predicts that the probability of encountering energy-rich pelagic prey is the key factor in driving vertical migration in adult cod. Buoyancy regulation is further shown to be an important constraint on vertical migration.