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Zarrad R., Rodríguez J.M., Alemany F., Charef A., Jarboui O., Missaoui H. 2020. Larval fish community composition and distribution of the central-southern Mediterranean under summer and winter conditions. Acta Ichthyol. Piscat. 50 (3): 313–324.

Background. The Gulf of Gabès supports an important fishery which is characterized by a great diversity of fish species. Despite this importance, there has been no attempt to examine the whole larval fish assemblage in this area. The aim of this study was to investigate the larval fish communities during summer and winter seasons in the Gulf of Gabès.

Materials and methods. Two multidisciplinary surveys were carried out aboard the R/V Hannibal in 2009. A total of 80 and 70 stations were sampled during winter and summer surveys, respectively. Stations were arranged in a regular sampling grid of 10 × 10 nautical miles. Ichthyoplankton was sampled by oblique tows with a Bongo net of 60 cm mouth diameter, fitted with 335 µm mesh nets. Zooplankton dry weight was obtained by drying aliquots of the zooplankton sample in an oven at 60ºC, for 72 hours.

Results. In summer 34 taxa representing 24 families, were collected, whereas in winter 35 taxa, representing 16 families, were collected. Larval fish communities were dominated by small pelagic species: sardinella and anchovy in summer and sardine in winter. The results also highlight the Gulf of Gabès as an important spawning ground for many large and medium pelagic fishes, both highly migratory (Thunnus thynnus) and resident species (Auxis rochei, Euthynnus alletteratus). The summer/winter differences observed in species composition and abundance of the larval fish communities reflected the seasonality in fish species spawning in the Mediterranean Sea, likely influenced by the highly contrasting environmental conditions between seasons. Thus, the seasonal changes in the hydrographic conditions of the Gulf of Gabès result in different scenarios that provide suitable spawning environments for a variety of fishes, allowing them to share the Gulf as spawning habitat.

Conclusion. The Gulf of Gabès is an important fish spawning area for demersal, small pelagic, medium pelagic, and large pelagic (tunas). Larval species composition differed considerably between summer and winter surveys.

Keywords: ichthyoplankton, fish larvae, diversity, small pelagic fishes, tuna larvae



DOI: 10.3750/AIEP/02957

© 2005 The West Pomeranian University of Technology in Szczecin | Last modification:  2020-09-02