Cod (Gadus morhua) recruitment in the eastern Baltic Sea is influenced by predation on early life stages by sprat (Sprattus sprattus) and herring (Clupea harengus), which is considered as one of the mechanisms preventing cod recovery in the 1990s. In the light of improved cod recruitment in the second half of the 2000s, new analyses of stomach content of sprat and herring were conducted, to elucidate the contribution of changes in predation pressure on cod recruitment. Comparison of stomach contents of sprat and herring in 2004–2008 with data from the 1990s showed a similar diet composition in the two periods; however, changes were found in the ichthyoplankton abundance and composition in the diet, indicating reduced predation pressure on cod eggs in the most recent period. The abundance of cod eggs in the field, availability of other prey, and horizontal and vertical overlap between predator and prey were investigated as potential factors influencing cod egg predation.
Ices Journal of Marine Science, 2014, Vol 71, Issue 6, p. 1382-1392