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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 463:273-284 (2012)  -  DOI:

Geographically and environmentally driven spawning distributions of tuna species in the western Mediterranean Sea

P. Reglero1,*, L. Ciannelli2, D. Alvarez-Berastegui3, R. Balbín1, J. L. López-Jurado1, F. Alemany

1Instituto Español de Oceanografía, Centre Oceanogràfic de les Balears, Moll de Ponent s/n, 07015 Palma de Mallorca, Spain
2College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, 104 CEOAS Administration Building, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon 97331-5503, USA
3ICTS SOCIB—Sistema d’observació i predicció costaner de les Illes Balears. Parc Bit, Naorte, Bloc A 2-3, Palma de Mallorca, Spain

ABSTRACT: The spawning habitats of many large marine pelagic predators are poorly known. This lack of knowledge hampers conservation efforts that are aimed at identifying critical habitats for the spawning of these species. We hypothesized that phylogenetically related species show different adaptations and respond differently to environmental and geographical cues for when and where to spawn. We tested this hypothesis on a 5 yr data set (2001 to 2005) from the Balearic Islands region (Mediterranean Sea), targeting the early larval stage of 3 abundant species of tuna: bluefin tuna Thunnus thynnus, a large migratory oceanic species; albacore T. alalunga, a smaller species; and bullet tuna Auxis rochei, often found closer to coastal areas. The spatial distribution of spawning locations at the regional scale differed for the 3 tuna species. Bluefin tuna relied heavily on environmental signals, and therefore their spawning habitats can vary depending on the environment. In contrast, the spawning habitat of albacore and bullet tuna was driven mostly by geography and was less variable over contrasting environmental conditions. These regional adaptations for spawning habitats among the 3 tuna species may play a critical role in offspring survival and species interactions, and should be taken into account when establishing conservation practices.

KEY WORDS: Spawning strategy · Spawning habitat · Regional scale · Spatial distribution · Large predators · Migratory strategy · Mediterranean · Tuna

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Cite this article as: Reglero P, Ciannelli L, Alvarez-Berastegui D, Balbín R, López-Jurado JL, Alemany F (2012) Geographically and environmentally driven spawning distributions of tuna species in the western Mediterranean Sea. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 463:273-284.

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