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International Conference on Climate Change Global Warming

Berlin, Germany
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Habitat suitability modelling for a key small pelagic fish species (Sardinella aurita) in the central Mediterranean sea

Author(s): Zgozi S, Barra M, Basilone G, Hamza M, Assughayer M, et al.

Abstract

The study presents the biomass and spatial distribution of Sardinella aurita in the Libyan, Maltese and southern Sicily waters, estimated during four acoustic surveys in summer 2008 and 2010. Strong differences in terms of both spatial distribution and total biomass between years and areas were found, with higher total biomass in 2010 than in 2008 in both southern and northern areas of the central Mediterranean. Habitat suitability and changes in the spatial dynamics of round sardinella among areas and years are then explored in relation to total biomass variation and environmental factors. The area of presence of S. aurita increased in the Maltese and Sicilian waters in 2010 with respect to 2008, while most of the total biomass observed in the two years occupied the same proportion of the continental shelf in Libyan waters. The link between environmental conditions and S. aurita area of presence and aggregation was investigated by means of generalized additive models (GAM). The application of GAM singled out the key role of depth and temperature in driving higher round sardinella aggregations, as they were able to explain in both years about the 48% of total deviance in the case of strictly positive values. Favourable habitat for round sardinella was found in waters shallower than 60 m depths, with a clear peak around 40 m depth. Favourable temperature values were above 22°C for presence/absence case and above 24°C when GAM was applied on strictly positive values. Overall S. aurita biomass and distribution were discussed in the light of the classical models proposed to describe the fish spatial dynamics in relation to an increase in total biomass.

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