Evidence of Morocco dentex (Dentex maroccanus) distribution in the NE Mediterranean and relationships with environmental factors determined by Generalized Additive Modelling
The seasonal distribution of Morocco dentex (Dentex maroccanus) was investigated in relation to ocean environmental conditions in the NE Mediterranean Sea. Data were collected during a 2-yr period (1996–1997) of quasi-synoptic seasonal sampling using demersal trawl surveys. The study revealed evidence for the existence of environmental relationships and temporal habitat associations of Morocco dentex. The sea-bottom salinity, the water depth (through its interaction with bottom salinity) and the spatial location appeared to be key determinants of distribution. There was a strong consistency in the pattern and significance of the observed relationships across all seasons. The present results provided direct support for a preferential seasonal aggregation of Morocco dentex in specific geographic and bathymetric regions of the study area. In all four seasons, these favourable regions were found to be relatively stable and distinct, had the highest catch-per-unit-effort index, and were located over shallower grounds (50–70 m) having bottom salinity around 39.1. The current findings also indicated that, throughout the year, the species was confined below the thermocline and avoided the deeper waters (>80 m). Morocco dentex ecological preferences for certain sea-bottom salinities, water depth zones and hydrographic regimes were suggested to contribute to the processes governing differential settlement to preferred grounds.