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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 733:95-110 (2024)  -  DOI:

Mesopelagic fish assemblages in the Mauritanian Upwelling System off Northwest Africa with oxygen as a major driving force

Sabrina E. Duncan1,2,*, Wilhelm Hagen2,3, Heino Ove Fock1

1Thünen Institute of Sea Fisheries, 27572 Bremerhaven, Germany
2University of Bremen, BreMarE - Bremen Marine Ecology, Marine Zoology, 28359 Bremen, Germany
3University of Bremen, Marum - Center for Marine Environmental Sciences, 28359 Bremen, Germany
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: The aims of this study were to determine the community composition and environmental drivers of mesopelagic fishes in the Mauritanian Upwelling System. Mesopelagic fish communities were sampled at 17 stations in August of 2016 off the coast of Senegal and Mauritania using a non-closing rectangular midwater trawl (RMT). This subregion is the most productive area of the Canary Current and has a pronounced and permanent oxygen minimum zone (OMZ). The sampling area was mainly composed of low-oxygenated South Atlantic Central Water, except for 1 station, where North Atlantic Central Water prevailed. Three distinct mesopelagic fish communities were identified. One community occurred in the vicinity of a coldwater eddy and was dominated by the myctophid Benthosema glaciale. In contrast, the gonostomatid genus Cyclothone prevailed in the other 2 communities and made up 62 and 51% of the total fish abundance. Our analyses revealed that the environmental factors that primarily influenced the composition of these mesopelagic fish assemblages were the oxygen concentrations at 10, 100, and 600 m depth. The present study shows that the mixing of water masses at frontal zones leads to communities representative of both water masses. In the case of the Mauritanian upwelling region, a high portion of the mesopelagic fish species were well adapted to OMZ conditions.

KEY WORDS: Eastern Boundary Upwelling System · Micronekton · Cyclothone · Benthosema glaciale · Myctophidae · Community composition · Oxygen minimum zone · OMZ

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Cite this article as: Duncan SE, Hagen W, Fock HO (2024) Mesopelagic fish assemblages in the Mauritanian Upwelling System off Northwest Africa with oxygen as a major driving force. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 733:95-110.

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