Original Articles

Anchovy spawning in relation to the biomass and the replenishment rate of their copepod prey on the western Agulhas Bank


Anchovy biomass and copepod standing stocks and growth rates on the Agulhas Bank were compared during the peak spawning period (November) in 1988 and 1989. In 1988, copepod biomass over the western Agulhas Bank was low (1,0 g dry mass·m−2) relative to anchovy biomass there (14,7 g dry mass·m−2). In November 1989 in the same area, fish biomass was much lower (5,7 g dry mass·m−2), following a recruitment failure, and copepod biomass was higher (2,4 g dry mass·m−2), possibly as a result of lesser predation by anchovy. By contrast, the eastern Agulhas Bank had a larger biomass of copepods (4–6 g dry mass·−2) and a lower biomass of anchovy during both years. Knowing, from laboratory studies, that a prey biomass of 0,78 g·m−2 is required for fish to obtain their daily maintenance ration, it is suggested that spawning on the western Agulhas Bank was food-limited in 1988. Copepods on the western Bank may be replaced by local growth or transport from the eastern Bank. Growth rates of copepods on the western Bank were 10–50 per cent of maximum in 1988, but total production (c. 100 mg dry mass·m−2·day−1) was low, primarily because biomass was low and less than the rate of consumption by anchovy (243 mg copepod dry mass·m−2·day−1). On the eastern Bank, copepod production exceeded anchovy consumption and it is concluded that the flux of copepod biomass onto the western Bank may be as important as local growth in replenishing copepod stocks there. Feeding conditions for anchovy on the western Agulhas Bank are often marginal compared to the situation on the eastern Bank, and it is suggested that the selection of the western Bank as the major spawning area is related more to the success of transport and survival of eggs and larvae on the West Coast recruiting grounds than to feeding conditions per se.

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