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Sardine potential habitat and environmental forcing off western Portugal

Author(s): Zwolinski JP, Oliveira PB, Quintino V, Stratoudakis Y


Relationships between sardine (Sardina pilchardus) distribution and the environment off western Portugal were explored using data from seven acoustic surveys (spring and autumn of 2000, 2001, 2005, and spring 2006). Four environmental variables (salinity, temperature, chlorophyll a, and acoustic epipelagic backscatter other than fish) were related to the acoustic presence and density of sardine. Univariate quotient analysis revealed sardine preferences for waters with high chlorophyll a content, low temperature and salinity, and low acoustic epipelagic backscatter. Generalized additive models depicted significant relationships between the environment and sardine presence but not with sardine density. Maps of sardine potential habitat (SPH) built upon the presence/absence models revealed a clear seasonal effect in the across-bathymetry and alongshelf extension of SPH off western Portugal. During autumn, SPH covered a large part of the northern Portuguese continental shelf but was almost absent from the southern region, whereas in spring SPH extended farther south but was reduced to a narrow band of shallow coastal waters in the north. This seasonal pattern agrees with the spatio-temporal variation of primary production and oceanic circulation described for the western Iberian shelf.

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