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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 248:221-235 (2003)  -  doi:10.3354/meps248221

Wind mixing, food availability and mortality of anchovy larvae Engraulis encrasicolus in the northern Adriatic Sea

S. H. Coombs1,*, O. Giovanardi2, N. C. Halliday1, G. Franceschini2, D. V. P. Conway1, L. Manzueto2, C. D. Barrett3, I. R. B. McFadzen4

1Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, The Laboratory, Citadel Hill, Plymouth PL1 2PB, United Kingdom
2Istituto Centrale per la Ricerca scientifica e tecnologica Applicata al Mare, Viale Stazione 5, 30015 Chioggia (VE), Italy
3Plymouth Marine Laboratory, Prospect Place, The Hoe, Plymouth PL1 3DH, United Kingdom
4Coastal and Marine Biotechnologies Ltd., Tamar Science Park, Plymouth PL6 8BX, United Kingdom

ABSTRACT: A study was carried out in June/July 1996 in the River Po outflow in the northern Adriatic to investigate spawning of anchovy Engraulis encrasicolus and survival of larvae in relation to food availability and wind mixing. Hydrographic- and bongo net sampling was carried out on 2 grid surveys; one after a period of low winds and settled weather, and the other after an intervening period of strong winds, which resulted in a decrease in water column stratification. The spawning areas of anchovy and the larval distributions were associated with the river outflow plume (most clearly on the second survey grid, after the period of higher winds). Potential food particles for anchovy larvae, primarily copepod nauplii and copepodite stages, were also concentrated in the area influenced by the river outflow. Although there was a nearly 50% reduction in the mean water column abundance of potential food particles between the 2 survey grids, mostly due to a decline in abundance outside the immediate river plume area, there was no significant change in mortality of anchovy larvae between the 2 grids; the exponential decline in numbers of eggs and larvae to 10 mm in length being equivalent to overall mortality rates of 43.2% d-1 on the first survey and 44.7% d-1 on the second. The resilience of larval survival under potentially less favourable feeding conditions, following the period of wind mixing, was ascribed, in part, to the maintenance of local water column stratification by the superficial low salinity input from the River Po. This stratification in the immediate outflow area was associated with the presence of concentrated layers of potential food particles (typically >50 particles l-1 and 1.5 to 2.8 times the mean water column abundance) in the upper 10 m of the water column, coincident with peak numbers of anchovy larvae. However, since there was no evidence for lower larval survival in areas, less influenced by the immediate river outflow plume, a simple direct relationship between enhanced water column stability, improved feeding conditions and larval survival was not supported.

KEY WORDS: Engraulis encrasicolus · Anchovy · Eggs · Larvae · Mortality · Feeding conditions · Wind mixing

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