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Relative importance of gulf and shelf waters for spawning and recruitment of Australian anchovy, Engraulis australis, in South Australia

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Gonosomatic indices and egg and larval densities observed from 1986 to 2001 suggest that the peak spawning season of the Australian anchovy (Engraulis australis) in South Australia occurs during January to March (summer and autumn). This coincides with the spawning season of sardine (Sardinops sagax) and the period when productivity in shelf waters is enhanced by upwelling. Anchovy eggs were abundant throughout gulf and shelf waters, but the highest densities occurred in the northern parts of Spencer Gulf and Gulf St Vincent where sea surface temperatures (SST) were 24–26°C. In contrast, larvae >10 mm total length (TL) were found mainly in shelf waters near upwelling zones where SSTs were relatively low (<20°C) and levels of chlorophyll a (chl a) relatively high. Larvae >15 mm TL were collected only from shelf waters near upwelling zones. The high levels of larval abundance in the upwelling zones may reflect higher levels of recruitment to later stages in these areas compared with the gulfs. The sardine spawns mainly in shelf waters; few eggs and no larvae were collected from the northern gulfs. The abundance of anchovy eggs and larvae in shelf waters increased when sardine abundance was reduced by large-scale mortality events, and decreased as the sardine numbers subsequently recovered. We hypothesize that the upwelling zones provide optimal conditions for the survival of larval anchovy in South Australia, but that anchovy can only utilize these zones effectively when the sardine population is low. At other times, northern gulf waters of South Australia may provide a refuge for the anchovy that the sardine cannot utilize.
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Keywords: anchovy (Engraulis australis); clupeoid; eggs; inshore–offshore distribution; larvae; sardine (Sardinops sagax); spawning; upwelling

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Anatomical Sciences, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA 5005, Australia 2: School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA 5005, Australia 3: South Australian Research and Development Institute (Aquatic Sciences), PO Box 120, Henley Beach, Adelaide, SA 5022, Australia

Publication date: 2004-09-01

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