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Habitat preferences and life history of the red scorpion fish, Scorpaena notata, in the Mediterranean
Ordines, F.; Quetglas, A.; Massutí, E.; Moranta, J. (2009). Habitat preferences and life history of the red scorpion fish, Scorpaena notata, in the Mediterranean. Est., Coast. and Shelf Sci. 85(4): 537-546. https://hdl.handle.net/10.1016/j.ecss.2009.09.020
In: Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science. Academic Press: London; New York. ISSN 0272-7714; e-ISSN 1096-0015, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keywords
    Behaviour > Feeding behaviour
    Body conditions
    Habitat selection
    Life history
    Scorpaena notata Rafinesque, 1810 [WoRMS]
    MED, Western Mediterranean [Marine Regions]
Author keywords
    Scorpaena notata; life history; habitat selection; body conditions;feeding behaviour; western Mediterranean

Authors  Top | Dataset 
  • Ordines, F.
  • Quetglas, A.
  • Massutí, E.
  • Moranta, J.

Abstract
    Scorpaena notata is a small, sedentary scorpaenid species widely distributed in the Mediterranean and adjacent waters of the Atlantic. In the western Mediterranean it inhabits coastal continental shelf bottoms. In the Balearic Islands, these bottoms are characterised by the presence of the facies with red algae, including both Peyssonnelia and mäerl beds. These beds enhance the structural complexity, biodiversity and secondary production of the soft bottoms. Due to the oceanographic conditions of the Islands, the facies with red algae are especially rich in terms of biomass and algal coverage, and are widespread distributed between 40 and 90 m depth, where trawlers exploiting the continental shelf operate. The present work studies the biology of S. notata and its relationship with habitat characteristics. Special attention is focused on the aspects related to fish condition and growth as a tool to assess the importance of the facies with red algae for fish.The reproduction period of S. notata in the Balearic Islands occurs in summer and is accompanied by a decrease in hepatic condition, as it happens in the adjacent area off the Iberian Peninsula; however, in contrast with this adjacent area, this period is accompanied by a decrease in somatic condition and an increase in feeding potential, which suggests that these could be adaptations to the higher oligotrophy of the Archipelago. The standardised algal biomass (mostly Rhodophyceae) present in the bottoms positively affected the abundance, somatic condition and feeding potential of S. notata. Individuals inhabiting bottoms with the highest algal biomass showed faster growth than the entire population analysed together. Both, the structural complexity and the availability of preys in the facies with red algae are revealed as advantageous traits for the life history of fish. Taking into account the importance of individual health for the overall success of the population, the indexes studied here could be a useful tool for identifying high quality or essential fish habitats. Our results highlight the importance of the facies with red algae as oasis of high productivity where benthic fish can circumvent the general oligotrophic conditions of the Mediterranean, and the necessity of urgent management measures in order to protect them from human impacts.

Dataset
  • MEDITS-Spain: Demersal and mega-benthic species from the MEDITS (Mediterranean International Trawl Survey) project on the Spanish continental shelf between 1994 and 2009, more

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