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:SPF2av13 (2024)  -  DOI:

Anomalous ocean currents and European anchovy dispersal in the Iberian ecosystem

A. Teles-Machado1,2,*, S. M. Plecha2,3, A. Peliz2,3, S. Garrido1

1Instituto Português do Mar e da Atmosfera, 1495-165 Lisboa, Portugal
2Instituto Dom Luiz (IDL), 1749-016 Lisboa, Portugal
3Faculdade de Ciências, Universidade de Lisboa, 1749-016 Lisboa, Portugal
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Unlike other upwelling areas where sardine and anchovy species dominate the pelagic ecosystems, the Western Iberian ecosystem has been consistently dominated by European sardine Engraulis encrasicolus, while anchovy had a residual presence from the start of acoustic surveys, in 1989, to 2014. Since 2015, the abundance of anchovy in the Western Iberian margins has sharply increased and continues to show an increasing trend as of 2023. It is unclear if this increase is a result of dispersal from nearby recruitment areas, higher survival rates of early life stages due to favorable environmental conditions, or both. We used a set of different models to simulate the dispersion and survival of anchovy early life stages in the Iberian region for the years preceding the increase in anchovy abundance. An ocean model simulation with the model CROCO provided the fields used as background for Lagrangian simulations coupled to an individual-based model of anchovy eggs and larvae. We simulated the years 2013-2015, and the results show that in 2014 and 2015, anomalous upper-ocean circulation patterns with strong and persistent eastward currents transported a large number of eggs and larvae from the Bay of Biscay (BoB) eastward along the Northern Iberian margin. The maximum transport occurred in June and July 2015, when 8 and 4%, respectively, of the eggs spawned in the BoB potentially reached the Iberian west coast as larvae. This process might explain the increase in anchovy abundance in the Western Iberian ecosystem. The results of the study show that episodes of anomalous intense ocean currents, when coincident with high presence of eggs, can lead to the colonization of new areas, and connectivity between areas varies dramatically with time.

KEY WORDS: Engraulis encrasicolus · Larval dispersal · Oceanographic conditions · Iberia · Connectivity

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Cite this article as: Teles-Machado A, Plecha SM, Peliz A, Garrido S (2024) Anomalous ocean currents and European anchovy dispersal in the Iberian ecosystem. Mar Ecol Prog Ser :SPF2av13.

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