The effects of environmental factors on daytime sandeel distribution and abundance on the Dogger Bank

Jeroen van der Kooij, Beth E. Scott, Steven Mackinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Citations (Scopus)


Spring distribution and abundance of lesser sandeels during the day were linked to zooplankton densities, seabed substrate and various hydrographic factors using small scale empirical data collected in two areas on the Dogger Bank in 2004, 2005 and 2006. The results of a two-step generalized additive model (GAM) suggested that suitable seabed substrate and temperature best explain sandeel distribution (presence/absence) and that sandeel abundance (given presence) was best described by a model that included bottom temperature, difference between surface and bottom temperature and surface salinity. The current study suggests that suitable seabed substrate explains sandeel distribution in the water column. Bottom temperature and surface salinity also played an important role in explaining distribution and abundance, and we speculate that sandeels favour hydrographically dynamic areas. Contrary to our hypothesis sandeels were not strongly associated with areas of high zooplankton density. We speculate that in early spring on the western Dogger Bank plankton is still patchily distributed and that sandeels only emerge from the seabed when feeding conditions near their night-time burrowing habitat are optimal. The results also suggested that when abundance is over a threshold level, the number of sandeel schools increased rather than the schools becoming bigger. This relationship between patchiness and abundance has implications for mortality rates and hence fisheries management. Crown Copyright (C) 2008 Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-209
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Sea Research
Issue number3
Early online date27 Jul 2008
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2008


  • Sandeels
  • Sand Lance
  • Ecology
  • Oceanography
  • Fronts
  • Zooplankton
  • Patchiness
  • Acoustics
  • Generalized Additive Model
  • Ammodytes-marinus raitt
  • Generalized additive-models
  • North-Sea
  • Lesser sandeel
  • Pelagic fish
  • Regional-variation
  • Predatory impact
  • Bahia-Magdalena
  • Larval


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