The migratory behaviour of North Sea plaice: currents, clocks and clues

Julian D Metcalfe, Ewan Hunter, Ainsley A Buckley

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36 Citations (Scopus)


Water currents are a dominant feature of the open sea and often play an important part in the life cycle of the fish that live there. For over three decades, a focus of research at Lowestoft has been the role of tidal water currents as a part of wider understanding of the population dynamics of plaice (Pleuronectes platessa) in the North Sea. Increasingly sophisticated telemetry methods have been developed and used, initially to describe the migratory behaviour of individual fish, and latterly to describe the spatial dynamics of whole populations. Here, the authors review cues and clues for environmental transport at different life stages, with a critical evaluation of the facultative use of selective tidal stream transport in relation to water current speed. The clues that trigger movement into mid-water by adult fish are reconsidered in light of new findings. Finally, the orientation capabilities of plaice, together with evidence of repeat migrations and spawning site fidelity were examined.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-36
Number of pages12
JournalMarine and Freshwater Behaviour and Physiology
Issue number1
Early online date21 Aug 2006
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • plaice
  • migration
  • behaviour
  • data storage tags
  • vertical activity
  • endogenous clocks

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