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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 728:199-219 (2024)  -  DOI:

Influence of extreme cold and warm oceanographic events on larval fish assemblages in the southern region of the California Current

Gerardo Aceves-Medina1,*, Ana Gabriela Uribe-Prado1, Sylvia Patricia Adelheid Jiménez-Rosenberg1, Reginaldo Durazo2, Ricardo J. Saldierna-Martínez1, Raymundo Avendaño-Ibarra1, Airam Nauzet Sarmiento-Lezcano3

1Instituto Politécnico Nacional, Centro Interdisciplinario de Ciencias Marinas, Apartado Postal 592, 23096 La Paz, BCS, México
2Facultad de Ciencias Marinas, Universidad Autónoma Baja California, 22860, Ensenada, BC, México
3Instituto de Oceanografía y Cambio Global, IOCAG, Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Campus de Taliarte, 35214 Telde, Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, Spain
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: The larval fish community in the southern region of the California Current (CC) was analyzed to test the hypothesis of a northward expansion of tropical species for the summer-fall seasons of La Niña (LN) 2010-2011, The Blob 2014, and El Niño (EN) 2015-2016. Interannual temperature anomalies (-5 to +2°C), as well as decreases in chlorophyll a (68%) and zooplankton density (71%), resulted in dramatic changes in the larval fish community, such as an 82% decline in larval fish density, unprecedented for the CC. Tropical species richness increased in the north by 46%, while temperate species decreased by 65% in the south. Mesopelagic species richness and relative abundance increased in the north by 53 and 92%, respectively. In the south, the species richness of the demersal component increased up to 39%, although demersal species were co-dominant with mesopelagic species, accounting for 47% of the relative abundance compared to 49% for the mesopelagic species. The magnitude of the changes in the community was unparalleled when compared with other warming events, such as EN 1983-1984 or EN 1997-1998. The differences were probably related to the presence of The Blob, which favored the transport of oceanic species into the neritic region of the CC. In both cold and warm years, fronts and mesoscale eddies in the middle part of the Baja California Peninsula represented barriers to the latitudinal distribution of species, even during intense tropicalization processes, since no latitudinal extensions in species distribution occurred.

KEY WORDS: Fish larvae · Southern California Current Region · La Niña 2010-2011 · El Niño 2015-2016 · The Blob 2014 · Marine heatwave

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Cite this article as: Aceves-Medina G, Uribe-Prado AG, Jiménez-Rosenberg SPA, Durazo R, Saldierna-Martínez RJ, Avendaño-Ibarra R, Sarmiento-Lezcano AN (2024) Influence of extreme cold and warm oceanographic events on larval fish assemblages in the southern region of the California Current. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 728:199-219.

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