A quantitative estimate of the function of soft-bottom sheltered coastal areas as essential flatfish nursery habitat

Type Article
Date 2013-11
Language English
Author(s) Trimoreau E.1, Archambault Benoit1, Brind'Amour Anik2, Lepage Mario3, Guitton Jerome1, Le Pape O.1
Affiliation(s) 1 : AGROCAMPUS OUEST, ESE Ecol & Sante Ecosyst UMR985, F-35042 Rennes, France.
2 : IFREMER, Ctr Nantes, F-44311 Nantes, France.
3 : Irstea, Unite Ecosyst Estuariens & Poissons Migrateurs Am, F-33612 Cestas, France.
Source Estuarine Coastal And Shelf Science (0272-7714) (Academic Press Ltd- Elsevier Science Ltd), 2013-11 , Vol. 133 , P. 193-205
DOI 10.1016/j.ecss.2013.08.027
WOS© Times Cited 11
Keyword(s) coastal and estuarine dependent species, nursery ground, habitat suitability models, Geographic Information System, Bay of Biscay
Abstract Essential fish habitat suitability (EFHS) models and geographic information system (GIS) were combined to describe nursery habitats for three flatfish species (Solea solea, Pleuronectes platessa, Dicologlossa cuneata) in the Bay of Biscay (Western Europe), using physical parameters known or suspected to influence juvenile flatfish spatial distribution and density (i.e. bathymetry, sediment, estuarine influence and wave exposure). The effects of habitat features on juvenile distribution were first calculated from EFHS models, used to identify the habitats in which juvenile are concentrated. The EFHS model for S. solea confirmed previous findings regarding its preference for shallow soft bottom areas and provided new insights relating to the significant effect of wave exposure on nursery habitat suitability. The two other models extended these conclusions with some discrepancies among species related to their respective niches. Using a GIS, quantitative density maps were produced from EFHS models predictions. The respective areas of the different habitats were determined and their relative contributions (density × area) to the total amount of juveniles were calculated at the scale of stock management, in the Bay of Biscay. Shallow and muddy areas contributed to 70% of total juvenile relative abundance whereas only representing 16% of the coastal area, suggesting that they should be considered as essential habitats for these three flatfish species. For S. solea and P. platessa, wave exposure explained the propensity for sheltered areas, where concentration of juveniles was higher. Distribution maps of P. platessa and D. cuneata juveniles also revealed opposite spatial and temporal trends which were explained by the respective biogeographical distributions of these two species, close to their southern and northern limit respectively, and by their responses to hydroclimatic trends.
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