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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 359:171-183 (2008)  -  DOI:

Diel vertical migration of decapod larvae in the Portuguese coastal upwelling ecosystem: implications for offshore transport

Antonina dos Santos1,*, A. Miguel P. Santos1, David V. P. Conway2, Cátia Bartilotti1,  Patrícia Lourenço1,3, Henrique Queiroga3

1Instituto Nacional de Recursos Biológicos – IPIMAR, Av. Brasília, s/n, 1449-006 Lisboa, Portugal
2Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, The Laboratory, Citadel Hill, Plymouth, PL1 2PB, UK
3Departamento de Biologia, Centro de Estudos do Ambiente e do Mar, Universidade de Aveiro, 3810-193 Aveiro, Portugal

ABSTRACT: The vertical distribution of decapod larvae off the northwest Portuguese coast was analysed in relation to associated environmental conditions from sampling during a 69 h period around a current meter mooring located on the shelf, approximately 21 km off the coast. Plankton samples were collected every 2 h at the surface with a neuston net and through the water column with a Longhurst Hardy Plankton Recorder (Pro-LHPR), allowing a very detailed resolution of larval vertical distribution. Environmental data (temperature, salinity, and chlorophyll a) were obtained every hour. To investigate the horizontal distribution of decapod larvae in relation to the coast, a plankton-sampling grid was carried out before the 69 h fixed station. Larvae of shelf decapod species were widely distributed over the shelf, while those of inshore species were found much closer to the coast. Decapod larvae (zoeae and megalopae) showed clear diel vertical migrations, only appearing in the upper 20 m at night, a migration that did not appear to be affected by physical conditions in the water column. Larval densities were highly variable, 0.01 to 215 ind. m–3 for zoeae and 0 to 93 ind. m–3 for megalopae, the zoeae being generally more abundant. The results indicated that during the day larvae accumulate very close to the bottom. The diel vertical migration behaviour is discussed as one of the contributing mechanisms for larval retention over the shelf, even with offshore transport conditions promoted by coastal upwelling, and is hence of major relevance for the recruitment success of decapod species that inhabit inshore and shelf zones of coastal upwelling systems.

KEY WORDS: Decapod larvae · Diel vertical distribution · Portuguese shelf · Transport processes

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Cite this article as: dos Santos A, Santos AMP, Conway DVP, Bartilotti C, Lourenço P, Queiroga H (2008) Diel vertical migration of decapod larvae in the Portuguese coastal upwelling ecosystem: implications for offshore transport. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 359:171-183.

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