Journal Article

Capelin (<i>Mallotus villosus</i>) distribution and climate: a sea “canary” for marine ecosystem change

G.A. Rose

in ICES Journal of Marine Science

Published on behalf of ICES/CIEM

Volume 62, issue 7, pages 1524-1530
Published in print January 2005 | ISSN: 1054-3139
Published online January 2005 | e-ISSN: 1095-9289 | DOI:
Capelin (Mallotus villosus) distribution and climate: a sea “canary” for marine ecosystem change

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Capelin (Mallotus villosus) is a classic “r” adapted pelagic species that inhabits the northern boreal oceans at the margins of cold Arctic waters. The species originated in the North Pacific and colonized the North Atlantic at least once during interglacial periods of the past few million years. Capelin became the main forage species for many larger predatory fish, and also for seabirds and marine mammals. The colonizing abilities of capelin have been noted in historical anecdotes, typically in concert with climate variations. In this paper, all known shifts in distribution are catalogued. Shifts have taken place at the larval and adult stages, and some result in new spawning locations, others do not. Displacement distance relates to temperature change: log10(distancekm) = 0.28 × temperature change + 2.16 (p < 0.05, r2 = 0.91). The persistence of the shifts relates to the displacement distance: log10(persistencey) = 2.62 × log10(distancekm) − 6.56 (p < 0.05, r2 = 0.83). The quick and consistent response of capelin to temperature change, its importance to the North Atlantic foodweb, and established monitoring methods suggest this species as a sea “canary” for northern boreal marine ecosystem responses to climate variability and change.

Keywords: capelin; climate change; northern boreal ecosystems; temperature

Journal Article.  4088 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Environmental Science ; Marine and Estuarine Biology

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