, Volume 559, Issue 1, pp 11–22 | Cite as

Relationship Patterns between Ichthyoplankton and Zooplankton: A Conceptual Model

  • Laura Sanvicente-Añorve
  • Luis A. Soto
  • Ma. Luz Espinosa-Fuentes
  • César Flores-Coto
Opinion Paper


Selected cases of plankton studies were analyzed to illustrate the main types of relationships between the zooplankton and the ichthyoplankton abundance observed in the pelagic realm. Such relationships may exhibit a positive, a negative, or a random pattern. In the conceptual model here proposed, short-term oscillations among these patterns were attributed to small-scale biological processes, such as competition, predation, and intraguild predation, acting in conjunction with water turbulence. A negative relationship between zooplankton and ichthyoplankton abundance may be caused both by predation on fish eggs and larvae, and by detrimental competition and intraguild predation interactions for fish larvae. In contrast, positive relationships emerge from the absence or low abundance of major predators on the ichthyoplankton, and from food availability for fish larvae and competing species. The random pattern may appear as a gradual transitional stage between the negative and positive patterns, or be promoted by strong water turbulence – which generates random movements of individuals. The size of zooplankters greatly influences these small-scale phenomena. Hence, their role in the trophic web, the success in competition interactions and vulnerability to water turbulence depends on their size. Intra- and interspecific competition may be reduced by variability in body size within or among fish larvae populations. Owing to a strong interaction among phenomena at different scales, these small-scale processes are also influenced by larger scale features, such as seasonal changes in zooplankton biomass, water currents, or spawning periods of fish. At the space level, some theoretical studies have emphasized the role of water currents as a vector for fish larvae to reach the nursery grounds (migration triangle hypothesis), or to allow them to remain within their own population’s distributional area (member/vagrant hypothesis). At the temporal level, the match/mismatch theory insists in a synchrony between reproductive strategies of fish and cyclical changes in abundance and size spectrum of potential prey items for their larvae. In any case, a coincidence between favorable abiotic and biotic features during the whole life-cycle of fish would assure a success in survival of larvae and their subsequent recruitment to adult population.


fish larvae zooplankton biomass ecological interactions predation competition turbulence 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laura Sanvicente-Añorve
    • 1
  • Luis A. Soto
    • 1
  • Ma. Luz Espinosa-Fuentes
    • 1
  • César Flores-Coto
    • 1
  1. 1.Instituto de Ciencias del MarUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de MéxicoMexicoMexico

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