faculty listing

A Photo of  Nicola Hillgruber

Contact Information

Johann Heinrich von Thünen-Institute
Institute of Fisheries Ecology
Wulfsdorfer Weg 204
22926 Ahrensburg
Phone: (49) 4102-70860-16

Nicola Hillgruber Affiliate Faculty

Fisheries Ecology



  • ecology of marine fishes
  • early life history of marine fishes
  • impacts of biotic and abiotic factors on larval and juvenile fish
  • trophic interactions

Research Overview

I am interested in the ecology of marine fishes, primarily in the ecology of their early life stages. High and variable mortality rates during the early life appear to be a major cause for interannual variations in recruitment strength of fish populations. Factors responsible for survival or mortality of early life stages include biotic factors such as prey and predator densities as well as abiotic factors, such as light, temperature, and turbulence. My research interests focus on the impact of these biological and physical factors on condition, growth and, thus, survival of larvae and juveniles of marine fishes.



Rehberg, S., C. Hammer, N. Hillgruber, K., Hüssy, and A. Temming (accepted) Otolith microstructure analysis to resolve seasonal patterns of hatching and settlement in western Baltic cod. ICES Journal of Marine Science

Marsh, J. M., N. Hillgruber, and R. J. Foy (2012) Temporal and ontogenetic variability in trophic role of four groundfish species - walleye pollock, Pacific cod, arrowtooth flounder, and Pacific halibut - around Kodiak Island in the Gulf of Alaska. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 141: 468-486

Sturdevant, M., E. Fergusson, N. Hillgruber, C. Reese, J. Orsi, R. Focht, A. Wertheimer, and W. Smoker (2012). Lack of trophic competition among wild and hatchery juvenile chum salmon in Taku Inlet, Southeast Alaska. Environmental Biology of Fishes 94:101-116

Arimitsu, M. L., J. F. Piatt, E. N. Madison, J. S. Conaway, and N. Hillgruber (2012) Oceanographic gradients and seabird prey community dynamics in glacial fjords. Fisheries Oceanography 1:148-169

Churnside, J. H., E. D. Brown, S. Parker-Stetter, J. K. Horne, G. L. Hunt, N. Hillgruber, M. F. Sigler, and J. J. Vollenweider (2011) Airborne remote sensing of a biological hot spot in the southeastern Bering Sea. Remote Sensing 3: 621-637

McDermott, S. F., D. W. Cooper, J. L. Guthridge, I. B. Spies, M. F. Canino, P. Woods, and N. Hillgruber (2011) Effects of maternal growth on fecundity and egg quality of wild and captive Atka mackerel. Marine and Coastal Fisheries 3:324-335

Hillgruber, N., and C. E. Zimmerman (2009). Estuarine ecology of chum salmon, Oncorhynchus keta, in western Alaska: A review. In: C. C. Krueger and C. E. Zimmerman (editors). Sustainability of the Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim Salmon Fisheries, Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim Sustainable Salmon Initiative, Anchorage, Alaska. American Fisheries Society Symposium 70:183–199, 2009

Moss, J. H., N. Hillgruber, C. Lean, Jody Mackenzie-Grieve, K. Mull, K. W. Myers, and T. C. Starck (2009). Linking marine and freshwater domains to improve our understanding of variation in salmon abundance. In: C. C. Krueger and C. E. Zimmerman (editors). Sustainability of the Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim Salmon Fisheries, Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim Sustainable Salmon Initiative, Anchorage, Alaska. American Fisheries Society Symposium 70: 1115–1125, 2009

Reese, C., N. Hillgruber, M. Sturdevant, A. Wertheimer, W. W. Smoker, and R. Focht (2009). Spatial and temporal overlap between wild and hatchery juvenile chum salmon (Oncorhynchus keta) in the Taku River estuary, Alaska. Fishery Bulletin 107: 433-450.

Lauth, R. L., J. Guthridge, D. Blood, D. Nichol, and N. Hillgruber (2007). Reproductive cycle of Atka mackerel (Pleurogrammus monopterygius) in Alaska. Fishery Bulletin 105: 560-570.

Porter, S. M., L. Ciannelli, N. Hillgruber, K. M. Bailey, K. S. Chan, M. F. Canino, and L. J. Haldorson (2005). Analysis of factors influencing larval walleye pollock Theragra chalcogramma feeding in Alaskan waters. Marine Ecology Progress Series 302: 207-217.

Zimmerman, C. E., N. Hillgruber, S. E. Burril, M. A. St. Peters, and J. D. Wetzel (2005). Offshore marine observation of willow ptarmigan (Lagopus lagopus) including water landings, Kuskokwim Bay, Alaska. Wilson Bulletin 117(1): 12-14.

Kloppmann, M., N. Hillgruber, and H. von Westernhagen (2002). Wind-mixing effects on feeding success and condition of blue whiting larvae in the Porcupine Bank area. Marine Ecology Progress Series 235: 263-277.

Hillgruber, N., and M. Kloppmann (2001). Small-scale patterns in distribution and feeding of Atlantic mackerel (Scomber scombrus L.) larvae in the Celtic Sea with special regard to intra-cohort cannibalism. Helgoland Marine Research 55: 135-149.

Hillgruber, N., and M. Kloppmann (2000). Vertical distribution and feeding of larval blue whiting in turbulent waters above Porcupine Bank. Journal of Fish Biology 57:1290-1311.

Hillgruber, N., and M. Kloppmann (1999). Distribution and feeding of blue whiting Micromesistius poutassou larvae in relation to different water masses in the Porcupine Bank area, west of Ireland. Marine Ecology Progress Series 187: 213-225.

Hillgruber, N., M. Kloppmann, E. Wahl, and H. von Westernhagen (1997). Feeding of larval blue whiting and Atlantic mackerel: a comparison of foraging strategies. Journal of Fish Biology 51 (Supplement A): 230-249.

Hillgruber, N., L. J. Haldorson, and A. J. Paul (1995). Feeding selectivity of larval walleye pollock Theragra chalcogramma in the oceanic domain of the Bering Sea. Marine Ecology Progress Series 120: 1-10.