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Oceanographic habitat, growth and mortality of larval anchovy (Engraulis encrasicolus) in the northern Aegean Sea (eastern Mediterranean)
Somarakis, S.; Nikolioudakis, N. (2007). Oceanographic habitat, growth and mortality of larval anchovy (Engraulis encrasicolus) in the northern Aegean Sea (eastern Mediterranean). Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 152(5): 1143-1158.
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Somarakis, S.
  • Nikolioudakis, N.

    Data from two ichthyoplankton surveys carried out during June 1995 and June 1996 were used to study the broad scale distribution patterns of anchovy eggs and larvae over the northern Aegean Sea continental shelf and the regional/inter-annual variability in growth and mortality rates of larvae. Two major spawning grounds were identified. One in the east, located in the area influenced by the Samothraki gyre (SG), in which a large amount of enriched, modified Black Sea water (BSW) is entrapped and one in the west, associated with zooplankton-rich waters in the semi-enclosed Thermaikos gulf close to several river mouths. In the NE Aegean, anticyclonic gyres generated over the continental shelf and fed by the circulating stream of BSW (like the SG) may act as retention areas for larval anchovy. In the west, the high enclosure of the Thermaikos Gulf contributes to reducing offshore dispersal. Major changes were observed in egg and larval abundance as well as larval mortality between June 1995 and June 1996 in both the western and eastern part of the continental shelf. Mean abundance of eggs and early larvae was >5 times higher in 1996 than in 1995, when waters were significantly cooler, fresher and richer in mesozooplankton. Larval survival decreased from 79 to 69% day-1 in the east and from 89 to 74% day-1 in the west between 1995 and 1996. Hence increased egg production was coupled with higher larval mortality during June 1996. Furthermore, a highly significant positive relationship between larval mortality (Z) and mean egg abundance (A) emerged (Z = -0154 + 0.205 log[A], r 2 = 0.96, n = 7) when data from this study and a similar study in the NW Mediterranean were regressed. Mean growth rate of anchovy larvae in the study area (~0.5 mm day-1) did not differ significantly between areas/years. A marked ontogenetic change was observed in the otolith size/recent otolith growth-on-fish size relationships, which exhibited significant inflection points at ~6 mm formalin preserved length. This change seems to coincide with performance (e.g., catchability) and behavioral changes (e.g., onset of vertical migrations) in European anchovy associated with the development of the caudal fin (the flexion stage).

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