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- Thermal stratification drives movement of a coastal apex predator
- A characterization of the thermal ecology of fishes is needed to better understand changes in ecosystems and species distributions arising from global warming. The movement of wild animals during changing environmental conditions provides essential information to help predict the future thermal response of large marine predators. We used acoustic telemetry to monitor the vertical movement activity of the common dentex (Dentex dentex), a Mediterranean coastal predator, in relation to the oscillations of the seasonal thermocline during two summer periods in the Medes Islands marine reserve (NW Mediterranean Sea). During the summer stratification period, the common dentex presented a clear preference for the warm suprathermoclinal layer, and adjusted their vertical movements following the depth changes of the thermocline. The same preference was also observed during the night, when fish were less active. Due to this behaviour, we hypothesize that inter-annual thermal oscillations and the predicted lengthening of summer conditions will have a significant positive impact on the metabolic efficiency, activity levels, and population dynamics of this species, particularly in its northern limit of distribution. These changes in the dynamics of an ecosystem's keystone predator might cascade down to lower trophic levels, potentially re-defining the coastal fish communities of the future. © 2017 The Author(s).
- Aspillaga, Bartumeus, Starr, López-Sanz, Linares, DIáz, Garrabou, Zabala, Hereu
- The structure of Mediterranean rocky reef ecosystems across environmental and human gradients, and conservation implications
- Historical exploitation of the Mediterranean Sea and the absence of rigorous baselines makes it difficult to evaluate the current health of the marine ecosystems and the efficacy of conservation actions at the ecosystem level. Here we establish the first current baseline and gradient of ecosystem structure of nearshore rocky reefs at the Mediterranean scale. We conducted underwater surveys in 14 marine protected areas and 18 open access sites across the Mediterranean, and across a 31-fold range of fish biomass (from 3.8 to 118 g m -2). Our data showed remarkable variation in the structure of rocky reef ecosystems. Multivariate analysis showed three alternative community states: (1) large fish biomass and reefs dominated by non-canopy algae, (2) lower fish biomass but abundant native algal canopies and suspension feeders, and (3) low fish biomass and extensive barrens, with areas covered by turf algae. Our results suggest that the healthiest shallow rocky reef ecosystems in the Mediterranean have both large fish and algal biomass. Protection level and primary production were the only variables significantly correlated to community biomass structure. Fish biomass was significantly larger in well-enforced no-take marine reserves, but there were no significant differences between multi-use marine protected areas (which allow some fishing) and open access areas at the regional scale. The gradients reported here represent a trajectory of degradation that can be used to assess the health of any similar habitat in the Mediterranean, and to evaluate the efficacy of marine protected areas., Cited By (since 1996):21, Art. No.: e32742
- Sala, Ballesteros, Dendrinos, Di Franco, Ferretti, Foley, Fraschetti, Friedlander, Garrabou, Güçlüsoy, Guidetti, Halpern, Hereu, Karamanlidis, Kizilkaya, Macpherson, Mangialajo, Mariani, Micheli, Pais, Riser, Rosenberg, Sales, Selkoe, Starr, Tomas, Zabala