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Habitat characteristics promoting high density and condition of juvenile flatfish at nursery grounds on the west coast of Ireland
De Raedemaecker, F.; Brophy, D.; O’Connor, I.; Comerford, S. (2012). Habitat characteristics promoting high density and condition of juvenile flatfish at nursery grounds on the west coast of Ireland. J. Sea Res. 73: 7-17. dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.seares.2012.04.013
In: Journal of Sea Research. Elsevier/Netherlands Institute for Sea Research: Amsterdam; Den Burg. ISSN 1385-1101, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 
    VLIZ: Open Repository 236763 [ OMA ]

Keywords
    Limanda limanda (Linnaeus, 1758) [WoRMS]; Pleuronectes platessa Linnaeus, 1758 [WoRMS]; Marine
Author keywords
    Juvenile Flatfish; Pleuronectes platessa; Limanda limanda; Habitat Requirements; Small-scale Variability; Galway Bay Eastern Atlantic

Authors  Top 
  • De Raedemaecker, F., more
  • Brophy, D.
  • O’Connor, I.
  • Comerford, S.

Abstract
    Coastal zones are essential nursery habitats for most juvenile flatfish species. Understanding the habitat requirements promoting high abundance and growth of juvenile flatfish is important for evaluating nursery habitat quality. The present study aimed to assess nursery ground quality for the most common flatfish species: dab (Limanda limanda) and plaice (Pleuronectes platessa), in Galway Bay, on the west coast of Ireland. Monthly surveys were carried out in the period after peak settlement over two years. Variability in flatfish density and Fulton's K condition was explained in relation to biotic and abiotic habitat characteristics, differing within and between distinct nursery grounds. Dab were concentrated in deeper waters, were negatively associated with shrimp densities and salinity and their abundance showed a decrease from June to September combined with interannual variation. Plaice densities were highly associated with shallower depths and high polychaete and shrimp densities and were negatively related with increased macroalgal cover and organic content. Most of the variability in Fulton's condition was explained by the same set of variables for both species; year and densities of crab and malacostracans. This analysis revealed important ecological mechanisms allowing the co-existence of two flatfish species in nursery grounds. However, high quality nursery grounds for dab and plaice differed and anthropogenic and climatic impacts on flatfish nurseries are likely to have a different impact on plaice and dab populations. Knowledge gained about the quality of nursery habitat for commercially important fish species provides a basis for mapping essential flatfish habitats to inform management plans for coastal areas.

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