MEPS 354:219-228 (2008)  -  doi:10.3354/meps07203

Life strategies of fishes in European estuaries: the functional guild approach

Anita Franco1,*, Michael Elliott2, Piero Franzoi1, Patrizia Torricelli1

1Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Venice, Castello 2737/b, 30122 Venice, Italy
2Institute of Estuarine & Coastal Studies, University of Hull, Hull HU6 7RX, UK

ABSTRACT: The structure and functioning of estuarine fish assemblages have been analysed using data sets for 38 transitional waters covering all European latitudes, including NE Atlantic estuaries, Mediterranean lagoons and Scandinavian fjords. The fish species were assigned to functional guilds covering estuarine use, mode of feeding and reproductive strategy, thus describing the use made of transitional waters by fishes. The importance of estuaries as temporary biotopes (migration and nursery routes) for fish species has been identified together with the predominance of feeding on the detritivorous hyperbenthos and infauna. The high incidence of protective breeders in estuaries, as a mechanism to prevent the flushing out of young, has also been identified. These findings allow the validation of the functional guild approach, emphasising its use for the understanding of the functioning of estuaries and for their management and the protection of their ecological goods and services.


KEY WORDS: Fish assemblage · Functional groups · Estuary use · Feeding mode · Reproductive mode · European estuaries


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Cite this article as: Franco A, Elliott M, Franzoi P, Torricelli P (2008) Life strategies of fishes in European estuaries: the functional guild approach. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 354:219-228

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