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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 650:289-308 (2020)  -  DOI:

The box-balance model: a new tool to assess fish larval survival, applied to field data on two small pelagic fish

Vanesa Raya*, Jordi Salat, Ana Sabatés

Institut de Ciències del Mar, CSIC, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
*Corresponding author:
Advance View was available online July 2, 2020

ABSTRACT: This work develops a new method, the box-balance model (BBM), to assess the role of hydrodynamic structures in the survival of fish larvae. The BBM was applied in the northwest Mediterranean to field data, on 2 small pelagic fish species whose larvae coexist in summer: Engraulis encrasicolus, a dominant species, and Sardinella aurita, which is expanding northwards in relation to sea warming. The BBM allows one to quantify the contribution of circulation, with significant mesoscale activity, to the survival of fish larvae, clearly separating the effect of transport from biological factors. It is based on comparing the larval abundances at age found in local target areas, associated with the mesoscale structures (boxes), to those predicted by the overall mortality rate of the population in the region. The application of the BBM reveals that dispersion/retention by hydrodynamic structures favours the survival of E. encrasicolus larvae. In addition, since larval growth and mortality rates of the species are required parameters for application of the BBM, we present their estimates for S. aurita in the region for the first time. Although growth and mortality rates found for S. aurita are both higher than for E. encrasicolus, their combined effect confers a lower survival to S. aurita larvae. Thus, although the warming trend in the region would contribute to the expansion of the fast-growing species S. aurita, we can confirm that E. encrasicolus is well established, with a better adapted survival strategy.

KEY WORDS: Engraulis encrasicolus · Sardinella aurita · Mortality · Growth · Fish larvae · NW Mediterranean

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Cite this article as: Raya V, Salat J, Sabatés A (2020) The box-balance model: a new tool to assess fish larval survival, applied to field data on two small pelagic fish. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 650:289-308.

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