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Environmental determinants on fish post-larval distribution in coastal areas of south-western Mediterranean Sea

June 11, 2013

Larval distribution in coastal areas have been evaluated since the 1980s due to the importance on local population dynamics. Instead of conventional ichthyoplankton sampling devices, light traps have been used worldwide to sample pre-settlement stages as a good estimator of larval availability and distribution to nearshore habitats; however, to date, few studies are from the temperate environment, such as rocky reefs from Mediterranean sea. Here we describe the spatial and temporal variability of post-larval assemblage in the south-western Mediterranean Sea using light traps, and the effects of environmental variables on their abundances. We sampled 2 coastal localities with 9 light-traps for 2 consecutive nights during 13 months. Post-larval occurrence presented a seasonally pattern in which greater abundances and richness occurred during summer and autumn months. Sea surface temperature, currents and winds were the most important variables related to larval abundance. Important spatial differences accounted for lower diversity and post-larval abundances in an area protected from fishing. Although not tested, we suggest that 1) bottom morphology, 2) representation of habitat types in coastal areas, including those of adults, 3) local oceanographic conditions, and 4) direct and indirect MPA effects, may influence post-larval distribution, resulting in small scale spatial differences. These results reinforce the need for further studies on early life stages of fishes to better understand the dynamic of coastal fish populations.

Félix-Hackradt F C, Hackradt C W, J. Treviño-Otón J, Segovia-Viadero M, Pérez-Ruzafa A, García-Charton J A, in press. Environmental determinants on fish post-larval distribution in coastal areas of south-western Mediterranean Sea, Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 2013, doi:10.1016/j.ecss.2013.05.029. Article.

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