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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 685:69-84 (2022)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13979

Singularities of surface mixing activity in the Western Mediterranean influence bluefin tuna larval habitats

L. Díaz-Barroso1,*, I. Hernández-Carrasco1,2, A. Orfila2, P. Reglero3, R. Balbín3, M. Hidalgo3, J. Tintoré1,2, F. Alemany3,4, D. Alvarez-Berastegui3

1SOCIB, Balearic Islands Coastal Observing and Forecasting System, 07122 Palma de Mallorca, Spain
2IMEDEA (CSIC-UIB), Institut Mediterrani d’Estudis Avançats, 07190 Esporles, Spain
3CN-IEO-CSIC, Instituto Español de Oceanografía, Centre Oceanogràfic de les Balears, 07015 Palma de Mallorca, Spain
4ICCAT, International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, 28002 Madrid, Spain
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Understanding how the surface dynamics of the ocean influence the spawning and larval ecology of many large pelagic species, in particular tuna species, is a major challenge. For temperate tunas, the selection of geographically restricted spawning grounds is influenced by environmental conditions, but the influence of surface mixing properties on the early life stages of these species remains poorly understood. Here, based on ichthyoplankton samples collected over 4 yr and satellite-derived finite size Lyapunov exponents (FSLEs), we examined how horizontal mixing activity drives the probability of presence of Atlantic bluefin tuna Thunnus thynnus larvae. We further analyzed the spatial and temporal scales of the FSLE variability at which the relationship between larval presence and mesoscale activity is maximized. We found that moderate mixing activity strongly favors the spatial-temporal distribution of larval habitats, evidencing an optimal environmental window of bluefin tuna spawning and early life development within the mesoscale dynamics. During the spawning season, the Balearic Sea presents a unique spatial and temporal hydrodynamic scenario within the Western Mediterranean. These results can be used for developing oceanographic indicators and improving larval abundance indices that are currently used in Atlantic bluefin tuna stock assessments.


KEY WORDS: Finite size Lyapunov exponents · Mixing activity · Early life ecology · Thunnus thynnus · Optimal environmental window · OEW · Seascape ecology · Balearic Sea


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Cite this article as: Díaz-Barroso L, Hernández-Carrasco I, Orfila A, Reglero P and others (2022) Singularities of surface mixing activity in the Western Mediterranean influence bluefin tuna larval habitats. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 685:69-84. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13979

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