Survival of herring larvae, Clupea harengus L., under projected end-of-the-century CO2-levels, as part of a complete pelagic food web in a mesocosm experiment (KOSMOS, Kristineberg, Sweden 2013), supplement to: Sswat, Michael; Stiasny, Martina H; Taucher, Jan; Algueró-Muñiz, Maria; Bach, Lennart Thomas; Jutfelt, Fredrik; Riebesell, Ulf; Clemmesen, Catriona (2018): Food web changes under ocean acidification promote herring larvae survival. Nature Ecology & Evolution, 2(5), 836-840


Ocean acidification, the decrease in seawater pH due to rising CO2 concentrations, has been shown to lower survival in early life stages of fish and, as a consequence, the recruitment of populations including commercially important species. To date, ocean-acidification studies with fish larvae have focused on the direct physiological impacts of elevated CO2, but largely ignored the potential effects of ocean acidification on food web interactions. In an in situ mesocosm study on Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus) larvae as top predators in a pelagic food web, we account for indirect CO2 effects on larval survival mediated by changes in food availability. The community was exposed to projected end-of-the-century CO2 conditions (~760 µatm pCO2) over a period of 113 days. In contrast with laboratory studies that reported a decrease in fish survival, the survival of the herring larvae in situ was significantly enhanced by 19 ± 2%. Analysis of the plankton community dynamics suggested that the herring larvae benefitted from a CO2-stimulated increase in primary production. Such indirect effects may counteract the possible direct negative effects of ocean acidification on the survival of fish early life stages. These findings emphasize the need to assess the food web effects of ocean acidification on fish larvae before we can predict even the sign of change in fish recruitment in a high-CO2 ocean.

The presented parameters were measured, counted or calculated during a long-term mesocosm CO2 perturbation study in Gullmar Fjord (Sweden) in 2013. The natural plankton community was enclosed in ten pelagic mesocosms following a typical winter-to-summer plankton succession. Five of the mesocosms were enriched with CO2 to simulate end-of the century ocean acidification (~760 µatm) while the others served as untreated controls. The data set was used for survival analysis of Atlantic herring larvae, Clupea harengus L. in relation to the abundance of natural prey organisms and phytoplankton biomass.

Related Identifier
Metadata Access
Creator Sswat, Michael; Algueró-Muñiz, Maria; Taucher, Jan; Bach, Lennart Thomas; Jutfelt, Fredrik; Riebesell, Ulf; Stiasny, Martina H; Clemmesen, Catriona
Publisher PANGAEA - Data Publisher for Earth & Environmental Science
Contributor GEOMAR - Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel
Publication Year 2018
Rights Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported;
OpenAccess true
Language English
Resource Type Supplementary Dataset; Dataset
Format text/tab-separated-values
Size 4590 data points
Discipline Earth System Research
Spatial Coverage (11.477W, 58.266S, 11.479E, 58.269N); Gullmar Fjord, Skagerrak, Sweden
Temporal Coverage Begin 2013-03-10T00:00:00Z
Temporal Coverage End 2013-06-22T00:00:00Z