MEPS 220:241-251 (2001)  -  doi:10.3354/meps220241

Have recent mass mortalities of the sardine Sardinops sagax facilitated an expansion in the distribution and abundance of the anchovy Engraulis australis in South Australia?

T. M. Ward, F. Hoedt, L. McLeay, W. F. Dimmlich, G. Jackson, P. J. Rogers, K. Jones

South Australian Research and Development Institute (Aquatic Sciences), PO Box 120, Henley Beach 5022, Adelaide, South Australia
*E-mail: Present Addresses: **Department of Marine Biology and Aquaculture, James Cook University, Townsville 4811, Queensland, Australia ***Fisheries Western Australia. WA Marine Research Laboratories, PO Box 120 North Beach WA 6020

ABSTRACT: This paper examines the hypotheses (1) that Sardinops sagax and Engraulis australis are spatially segregated and do not interact directly, and (2) that recent mass mortalities of S. sagax have facilitated an expansion in the distribution and abundance of E. australis. In South Australian waters, S. sagax and E. australis both spawn during summer and autumn. Eggs and larvae of both species occur over the continental shelf, and are abundant in areas where upwelling occurs (e.g. off the Coffin Bay Peninsula and the western tip of Kangaroo Island) and frontal systems form (e.g. in Investigator Strait and the entrance of Spencer Gulf). After the mass- mortality events in 1995 and 1998, eggs and larvae of S. sagax were confined mainly to these areas, and estimates of the total abundance of S. sagax eggs and larvae in South Australian waters fell by between 48 and 83% respectively. Between 1996 and 1999, densities of E. australis eggs and larvae increased in both key spawning areas and the central and eastern Great Australian Bight, and total abundance of eggs and larvae increased by over 215 and 285% respectively. These results indicate that (1) S. sagax and E. australis are not spatially segregated and may interact directly, and (2) the mass mortalities of S. sagax may have facilitated an expansion in the distribution and abundance of E. australis. Hence, fluctuations in the relative abundance of S. sagax and Engraulis spp. observed in the world¹s productive boundary-current systems may also be possible in Australian waters.

KEY WORDS: Sardine · Anchovy · Distribution and abundance · Eggs and larvae · depth · Temperature · Spawning Season · Spawning Area · Competition

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