Exploring connectivity between spawning and nursery areas of Mullus barbatus (L., 1758) in the Mediterranean through a dispersal model

Francesco Gargano, Francesco Gargano, Germana Garofalo, Fabio Fiorentino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Connectivity between spawning and nursery areas plays a major role in determining the spatial structure of fish populations and the boundaries of stock units. Here, the potential effects of surface current on a red mullet population in the Central Mediterranean were simulated using a physical oceanographic model. Red mullet larvae were represented as Lagrangian drifters released in known spawning areas of the Strait of Sicily (SoS), which represents one of the most productive demersal fishing-grounds of the Mediterranean. To consider the effect of inter-annual variability of oceanographic patterns, numerical simulations were performed for the spawning seasons from 1999 to 2012. The main goal was to explore connectivity between population subunits, in terms of spawning and nursery areas, inhabiting the northern (Sicilian-Maltese) and southern (African) continental shelves of the SoS. The numerical simulations revealed a certain degree of connectivity between the Sicilian-Maltese and the African sides of the SoS. Connectivity is present in both directions, but it is stronger from the Sicilian-Maltese spawning areas to the African nurseries owing to the marine circulation features of the region. However, because the majority of the larvae are transported to areas unsuitable for settlement or outside the SoS, the dispersal process is characterized by a strong loss of potential settlers born in the spawning areas. These results are in agreement with the low genetic heterogeneity reported for this species in the Mediterranean Sea and support the existence of a metapopulation structure of red mullet in the SoS and the adjacent areas.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)476-497
Number of pages22
JournalFisheries Oceanography
Publication statusPublished - 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science


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