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

Marco Torri, Antonio Mazzola, Marco Arculeo, Sergio Bonomo, Francesco Placenti, Simona Genovese, Enza Maria Quinci, Marianna Musco, Marco Torri, Grazia Maria Armeri, Antonina Spanò, Gualtiero Basilone, Bernardo Patti, Angela Cuttitta, Sergio Bonomo, Salvatore Mazzola, Angelo Bonanno

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Fish larvae data collected in year 2009 were used to examine the effects of particular environmental conditionson the structure of larvalassemblages in two oligotrophic Mediterranean areas (the Southern Tyrrhenian Sea andthe Strait of Sicily). For this purpose, relationships with environmental variables (temperature, salinity andfluorescence), zooplankton biomass, water circulation and bathymetry are discussed. Hydrodynamic conditions resulted very differently between two study areas. The Southern Tyrrhenian Sea was characterized by moderateshallow circulation compared to the Strait of Sicily. In this framework, distribution pattern of larval density inthe Tyrrhenian Sea was mainly driven by bathymetry, due to spawning behavior of adult fish. There, results defined four assemblages: two coastal assemblages dominated by pelagic and demersal families and two oceanicassemblages 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 larvalfish 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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6-17
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Sea Research
Publication statusPublished - 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oceanography
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science


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