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An evaluation of sampling methodology for assessing settlement of temperate fish in seagrass meadows

AuthorsCatalán, Ignacio Alberto CSIC ORCID; Dunand, A.; Álvarez-Ellacuria, Itziar CSIC ORCID; Alós, Josep CSIC ORCID; Colinas, N.; Nash, Richard D. M.
KeywordsEpibenthic trawl
Fish sampling
Fish settlement
Light traps
Mediterranean sea
Posidonia oceanica
Issue Date17-Mar-2014
PublisherHellenic Centre for Marine Research
CitationMediterranean Marine Science 15(2): 338-349 (2014)
AbstractAll demersal fish with planktonic larvae settle at some point early in life, generally around the transformation from larvae to juveniles or soon after. Sampling pre-settlement or very young, settled fish is challenging due to spatial concretions within the habitat and the pulsed, rapid nature of the settlement process. There is a lack of robust sampling methods, but information on the settlement, which represents a mortality bottleneck, is crucial for the follow-up of populations for fisheries and conservation purposes. Empirical evaluation of sampling methods focusing on settling fish has not been conducted in temperate habitats. Here, we compare six different sampling methods to collect pre- and post-settlement stages of fish and determine the best combination of techniques to utilise in Posidonia oceanica, an endemic Mediterranean seagrass that provides a key nursery habitat for coastal fish. We used three types of pelagic nets (bongo net, neuston net and ring net), two types of light-traps (Quatrefoil and Ecocean CARE®) to sample pre-settled stages and a low-impact epibenthic trawl for recent settlers. Our results show a significantly different size-spectrum for each method, with a continuous range of sizes from 2 mm to 200 mm. The smallest sizes were collected by the bongo net, followed by the ring net, the neuston net, the Quatrefoil, the Ecocean and finally the epibenthic trawl. Our results suggest that an appropriate strategy for collecting and estimating the abundance of key littoral fish species around settlement size is the combination of the Ecocean light trap and the epibenthic trawl.
Publisher version (URL)
Identifiersdoi: 10.12681/mms.539
issn: 1791-6763
Appears in Collections:(IMEDEA) Artículos

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