Geist, S J, Kunzmann, Andreas ORCID:, Verheye, H. M., Eggert, A., Schukat, A. and Ekau, Werner ORCID: (2015) Distribution, feeding behaviour, and condition of Cape horse mackerel early life stages, Trachurus capensis, under different environmental conditions in the northern Benguela upwelling ecosystem. ICES Journal of Marine Science, 72 (2). pp. 543-557. DOI

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Early life history (ELH) traits are key to understand variable recruitment success and hence the stock size of marine fish. One of the currently most puzzling ecosystems in this regard is the northern part of the Benguela Current upwelling system off Namibia. Here, populations of the formerly dominant pelagic species, sardine and anchovy, failed to recover during the last three decades after a dramatic decline. In contrast, Cape horse mackerel, Trachurus capensis, maintained a constant population size. Warming of the system and shoaling of hypoxic zones together with feedback loops within an altered foodweb are discussed to be responsible for this regime shift. In this study, we address the role of larval traits for the successful performance of the T. capensis population under the present environmental conditions with the focus on feeding ecology. We investigated seasonal variations of the geographical distribution, growth rate, feeding ecology, and nutritional condition of their ELH stages and examined relationships with water temperature, dissolved oxygen concentration, and micro-zooplankton composition. T. capensis' ELH stages showed a wide spatial and seasonal distribution, a preference for higher water temperatures (18–21°C) and presence over a wide range of dissolved oxygen concentrations (0.13–6.35 ml O2 l−1). Feeding success was high and mainly different groups of Copepoda were targeted, which were strongly size selected. The high dietary importance of micro-copepods during large parts of the larval phase indicates successful exploitation of this food source, which has increased in abundance during the last decade. It also explains observed best nutritional conditions at temperatures between 18 and 21°C, since these small copepods are commonly associated with warmer temperatures. Altogether, these traits enhance the species' probability to encounter suitable environments for the survival of their ELH stages, which is likely to lead to their high recruitment success in the northern Benguela ecosystem.

Document Type: Article
Programme Area: UNSPECIFIED
Research affiliation: Ecology > Experimental Aquaculture
Ecology > Fisheries Biology
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: No
ISSN: 1054-3139
Date Deposited: 25 Jul 2019 13:25
Last Modified: 26 Mar 2024 13:29

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