Distribution of Engraulis encrasicolus eggs and larvae in relation to coastal oceanographic conditions (the South-western Adriatic Sea case study)

Published: May 23, 2018
Engraulis encrasicolus spawning habitat spatial distribution zooplankton biomass single-parameter quotient analysis Adriatic Sea

Identification of potential spawning and nursery areas of European anchovy (Engraulis encrasicolus) represents an essential step in the management of a resource which is of fundamental importance both for fishery and pelagic trophic web. Egg and larvae occurrence from ichthyoplankton surveys (2012 - 2015) in the South Western Adriatic Sea were examined to understand the mechanisms that control their distribution. Egg and larvae densities varied through the years with the highest values recorded in 2012 and the lowest in 2014. Positive correlations between eggs and larvae with zooplankton were observed. When quotient analysis was used to find relations with environmental and biological variables, the results pointed out an egg preference for depth between 91 and 120 m and an avoidance between 11 and 30 m. Moreover, egg avoidances for high values of chlorophyll-a (> 0.52 mg m-3) and low values of zooplankton biomass (< 199 mg m-2) were highlighted. On the other hand, different ranges of habitat preferences and avoidances were observed for larvae: preference range of depth between 11 and 60 m and avoidance > 151 m; preference for high zooplankton biomass (> 1000 mg m-2) and avoidance for low biomass (< 299 mg m-2). These correlations and the quotient values suggest that egg and larvae distribution in the South-Western Adriatic Sea is mainly driven by food availability and depth.

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