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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 471:203-214 (2012)  -  DOI:

Latitudinal trends in habitat quality of shallow‑water flatfish nurseries

Vânia Freitas1,2,*, Sebastiaan A. L. M. Kooijman3, Henk W. van der Veer1

1Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, PO Box 59, 1790 AB Den Burg, Texel, The Netherlands
2Centro Interdisciplinar de Investigação Marinha e Ambiental (CIIMAR), Universidade do Porto, Rua dos Bragas 289, 4050-123 Porto, Portugal
3Department of Theoretical Biology, Vrije Universiteit, de Boelelaan 1087, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands

ABSTRACT: The habitat quality of European shallow-water nurseries was studied for 3 common flatfish species based on juvenile growth conditions. Field growth of 0-group plaice Pleuronectes platessa, flounder Platichthys flesus and sole Solea solea, from both published and unpublished studies, was compared with maximum growth predicted by a bioenergetics model based on the dynamic energy budget theory. In plaice and flounder, realized growth ratio decreased consistently during the growing season in most of the nurseries analyzed, indicating a widespread pattern of declining conditions. In sole, growth performance was not maximal, but as opposed to the other species, no clear temporal trend in realized growth ratio was observed. A latitudinal comparison of realized growth ratio over the various nurseries indicated clear positive trends for plaice and flounder, with better growth conditions at northern latitudes. In sole, despite some variability, the same trend was found during part of the summer. In the absence of clear gradients in benthic prey biomass, we hypothesize that increased food limitation in southern locations is most likely caused by interspecific competition reducing maximum individual intake rates. These results suggest that, in the context of global warming, habitat quality of southern European nurseries for juvenile growth may be particularly affected by the combined interaction of food and thermal constraints.

KEY WORDS: Plaice · Flounder · Sole · Growth potential · Dynamic energy budget · Temperature · Food limitation · Latitude

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Cite this article as: Freitas V, Kooijman SALM, van der Veer HW (2012) Latitudinal trends in habitat quality of shallow‑water flatfish nurseries. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 471:203-214.

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