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Ichthyoplankton dynamics in the Guadiana estuary and adjacent coastal area, South-East Portugal

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The species composition, abundance and distribution of the ichthyoplankton of the Guadiana estuary and adjacent coastal area were studied in relation to several environmental parameters. Sampling occurred during new moon Spring tides, at the ebb and flood, at nine stations, from March 2002 to February 2003. Temperature, salinity, dissolved inorganic macronutrients, seston and organic matter and chlorophyll a were determined at each station. A total of 22 and 34 fish eggs and larvae taxa were identified, respectively. The highest abundances were registered in the lower and middle part of the estuary, probably due to the presence of species that use the estuary as a preferential spawning ground, mainly Pomatoschistus spp. and Engraulis encrasicolus sensu lato. Temporal patterns of occurrence of ichthyoplankton allowed each species’ spawning season to be determined. Two taxa dominated the ichthyoplanktonic community during spring and summer (Pomatoschistus spp. and E. encrasicolus), whereas Sardina pilchardus was particularly abundant during autumn and winter. The forcing variables responsible for community structure were chlorophyll a and seston for eggs, while temperature, salinity and nitrite explained the larval component. Comparisons of the results with previous ichthyoplankton studies of the Guadiana estuary conducted before the Alqueva dam was built also indicate that river flow has an important impact on the distribution and abundance of ichthyoplankton in the estuary.



Ichthyoplankton Spatial and temporal variation Environmental factors Guadiana estuary Coastal zone Alqueva dam


Faria, A.; Morais, P.; Chicharo, M. A. Ichthyoplankton dynamics in the Guadiana estuary and adjacent coastal area, South-East Portugal, Estuarine Coastal and Shelf Science, 70, 1-2, 85-97, 2006.

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