Marine Biology

, Volume 151, Issue 3, pp 1185–1194 | Cite as

Isolation of Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) nursery areas

  • Fiona M. Gibb
  • Iain M. Gibb
  • Peter J. WrightEmail author
Research Article


This study examines the degree of isolation among 0-group Atlantic cod in a region where a number of resident adult congregations have been found. The location of key nursery areas in Scottish coastal waters was identified from trawl surveys of settled 0-group cod around the Scottish coast. Segregation among four of these key areas; within the Clyde, Shetland Isles, Moray Firth and Buchan was investigated using otolith elemental composition. Isotope concentrations in the otoliths of cod were analysed by solution-based inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry of the whole otolith. Discriminant analyses showed a clear separation between nursery areas based on the concentrations of three elements (manganese, barium and magnesium). The concentration of these elements was not affected by the age or size of individuals. Classification accuracy exceeded 90% for all four sites. Evidence of temporal persistence in the relative spatial differences in elemental concentrations between two sites for 2 year-classes was found. The results suggest limited exchange between sites during some period of the early life history. The significance of this limited exchange is discussed in relation to recent evidence for adult fidelity and the utility of closed areas for protecting nursery grounds.


86Sr Nursery Area Quadratic Discriminant Analysis Otolith Chemistry Quarter Survey 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We are indebted to Hermann Thordarson from the Center of Chemical Analysis, Technological Institute of Iceland (IceTec) for elemental analyses. We also gratefully acknowledge the help of the following in sample collection: Suzanne Ware (previously of UMBSM); skippers, crew and scientific staff onboard the RV Aplysia, FRV Clupea and FRVScotia and FVs Karona, Radiant Star, Ocean Gem and Silver Dawn. This work was conducted as part of a contract with the European Union METACOD Q5RS-2001-00953 and the Scottish Executive projects MF0756 and MF0465. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the European Commission and in no way anticipates any future opinion of the Commission.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fiona M. Gibb
    • 1
  • Iain M. Gibb
    • 1
  • Peter J. Wright
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.FRS Marine LaboratoryAberdeen, ScotlandUK

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