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Different key roles of mesoscale oceanographic structures and ocean bathymetry in shaping larval fish distribution pattern: A case study in Sicilian waters in summer 2009

  • Autori: Cuttitta, A; Quinci, EM; Patti, B; Bonomo, S; Bonanno, A; Musco, M; Torri, M; Placenti, F; Basilone, G; Genovese, S; Armeri, GM; Spanò, A; Arculeo, M; Mazzola, A; Mazzola, S
  • Anno di pubblicazione: 2016
  • Tipologia: Articolo in rivista (Articolo in rivista)
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Fish larvae data collected in year 2009 were used to examine the effects of particular environmental conditions on the structure of larvalassemblages in two oligotrophic Mediterranean areas (the Southern Tyrrhenian Sea and the Strait of Sicily). For this purpose, relationships with environmental variables (temperature, salinity and fluorescence), zooplankton biomass, water circulation and bathymetry are discussed. Hydrodynamic conditions resulted very differently between two study areas. The Southern Tyrrhenian Sea was characterized by moderate shallow circulation compared to the Strait of Sicily. In this framework, distribution pattern of larval density in the Tyrrhenian Sea was mainly driven by bathymetry, due to spawning behavior of adult fish. There, results de fined four assemblages: two coastal assemblages dominated by pelagic and demersal families and two oceanic assemblages dominated by mesopelagic species more abundant in western offshore and less abundant in eastern offshore. The assemblage variations in the western side was related to the presence of an anti-cyclonic gyre in the northern side of the Gulf of Palermo, while in the eastern side the effect of circulation was not very strong and the environmental conditions rather than the dispersal of species determined the larval fish communities structure. Otherwise in the Strait of Sicily the currents were the main factor governing the concentration and the assemblage structure. In fact, the distribution of larvae was largely consistent with the branch of the Atlantic Ionian Stream (AIS). Moreover, very complex oceanographic structures (two cyclonic circulations in the western part of the study area and one anti-cyclonic circulation in the eastern part) caused the formation of uncommon spatial distribution of larval fish assemblages, only partially linked to bathymetry of the study area. Typically coastal larvae (pelagic families: Engraulidae and Clupeidae) were mostly concentrated in the offshore areas and off Capo Passero, where the presence of a thermo-haline front maintained their position in an area with favourable conditions for larval fish feeding and growth.