MEPS 491:177-186 (2013)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps10458

Connectivity between estuarine and coastal fish populations: contributions of estuaries are not consistent over time

Patrick Reis-Santos1,2,*, Susanne E. Tanner1, Rita P. Vasconcelos1, Travis S. Elsdon2, Henrique N. Cabral1,3, Bronwyn M. Gillanders2

1Centro de Oceanografia, Faculdade de Ciências, Universidade de Lisboa, Campo Grande, 1749-016 Lisboa, Portugal
2Southern Seas Ecology Laboratories, DX650 418, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, and Environment Institute, The University of Adelaide, South Australia 5005, Australia
3Departamento de Biologia Animal, Faculdade de Ciências, Universidade de Lisboa, Campo Grande, 1749-016 Lisboa, Portugal

ABSTRACT: Otolith elemental signatures (Li:Ca, Mg:Ca, Mn:Ca, Cu:Ca, Sr:Ca, Ba:Ca and Pb:Ca) of Age-0 juveniles of flounder Platichthys flesus and sea bass Dicentrarchus labrax, collected from estuarine systems along the Portuguese coast in 2006 and 2009, were used as baseline signatures to identify the estuarine nursery of Age-3+ and 2+ coastal fish matching the juvenile year classes. Otolith elemental signatures were determined via Laser Ablation Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry, and successfully identified the estuarine origin of the majority of coastal fish to characterized baseline estuaries. Relative contributions of individual estuaries to coastal areas, quantified using maximum likelihood estimation, varied over time for the 2 year classes analysed. However, some general patterns were discernible in terms of important estuaries versus those with minor or negligible contributions. Assigned nursery origins varied among species and suggested large scale movements along the coast. For P. flesus the main source for recruits changed between year classes from Ria de Aveiro (69%) to the Douro estuary (59%). The Mondego estuary, located near the latitudinal limit of P. flesus, contributed moderate numbers to coastal populations. The Tejo estuary was the most important estuary for D. labrax in both years sampled (55 and 50%, respectively), whilst the Ria de Aveiro hardly contributed to sea bass coastal populations (<2%). Ultimately, knowledge of which estuaries replenish coastal adult populations, and both local and distant fisheries, is essential for effective management and conservation of these species and their estuarine juvenile habitats.


KEY WORDS: Connectivity · Juvenile fish · Nursery · Otolith chemistry · Elemental signatures · Portugal


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Cite this article as: Reis-Santos P, Tanner SE, Vasconcelos RP, Elsdon TS, Cabral HN, Gillanders BM (2013) Connectivity between estuarine and coastal fish populations: contributions of estuaries are not consistent over time. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 491:177-186. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps10458

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