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Growth and movement patterns of early juvenile European anchovy (Engraulis encrasicolus L.) in the Bay of Biscay based on otolith microstructure and chemistry

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Various hypotheses have been put forward to explain the mechanisms in the Bay of Biscay that result in a good recruitment of European anchovy. Anchovy larvae from the spawning area in the Gironde River plume are advected towards off-shelf waters, where juveniles are commonly observed. Otolith microstructural and chemical analysis were combined to assess the importance of this off-shelf transport and to determine the relative contribution of these areas for anchovy survival. Chemical analysis of otoliths showed that anchovy juveniles in the Bay of Biscay can be divided into two groups: a group that drifts towards off-shelf waters early in their life and returns later, and a group that remains in the low salinity waters of the coastal area. The first group presents significantly faster growth rates (0.88 mm day−1) than those remaining in the coastal waters (0.32 mm day−1). This may be due to off-shelf waters being warmer in spring/summer, and to the fact that the lower food concentration is compensated for by higher prey visibility. Furthermore, the group of juveniles that drifted off the spawning area and had faster growth rates represents 99% of the juvenile population. These findings support the hypothesis that anchovy in the Bay of Biscay may use off-shelf waters as a spatio-temporal loophole, suggesting that transport off the shelf may be favourable for recruitment.

Keywords: Bay of Biscay; Engraulis encrasicolus; anchovy; growth pattern; juveniles; otolith chemistry

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: AZTI-Tecnalia, Marine Research Unit, Herrera Kaia Portualdea z/g, 20110, Pasaia, Basque Country, Spain 2: CNR-Istituto Di Geoscienze E Georisorse, U.O. Di Pavia, Via Ferrata 1, I-27100 Pavia, Italy

Publication date: May 1, 2010


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