The organic carbon content of gravel bed herring spawning grounds and the impact of herring spawn deposition
Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 73(4): 863-870
The dry weight and organic carbon content of eggs and components of Clyde spring herring eggs were measured at intervals during their development. Comparison with previously published data suggests that an increase has occurred in the weight of these eggs over the past thirty years. It is clear that only a small proportion of the material deposited in the form of herring spawn actually remains attached to the substratum when the larvae hatch and so is available for potential integration into the benthic food web. This was confirmed by the determination at intervals over two years of the organic carbon content of the gravel sediments on spawning grounds of the Clyde spring herring. Although the deposition of herring spawn resulted in an immediate marked increase in the carbon content of the spawning ground sediments, carbon levels quickly returned to pre-spawning levels and there was no evidence of any permanent or long lasting increase. This held true when the spawn died and decayed in situ and even when it was mixed into the sediment by wave action. The rapid decrease in carbon levels is attributed to the strong water movements which frequently occur over the spawning grounds.