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Keywords:

  • cod;
  • Gadus morhua;
  • generalized additive modelling;
  • Irish Sea;
  • plaice;
  • Pleuronectes platessa;
  • sole;
  • Solea solea;
  • spawning

Eleven ichthyoplankton cruises were undertaken covering most of the Irish Sea during the period February to June, 1995. To identify spawning localities and investigate temporal trends in egg production, the data on stage 1 A egg distributions of cod (Gadus morhua), plaice (Pleuronectes platessa) and sole (Solea solea) have been modelled using generalized additive models (GAMs). A two-stage approach was adopted where presence/absence was firstly modelled as a binary process and a GAM surface subsequently fitted to egg production (conditional on presence). We demonstrate that this approach can be used to model egg production both in space and in time. The spawning sites for cod, plaice and sole in the Irish Sea were defined in terms of the probability of egg occurrence. For cod, we demonstrate that by integrating under predicted egg production surfaces, a cumulative production curve can be generated and used to define percentiles of production and thus delimit the extent of the spawning season. However, for plaice and sole, the surveys did not fully cover the spawning season and the limitations that this imposes on GAM modelling of these data are discussed. Comparison of the spawning sites in 1995 with historical data suggests that the locations of cod, plaice and sole egg production in the Irish Sea have probably remained relatively constant over the last 30 years.