Geographic and bathymetric trends in abundance, biomass and body size of four grenadier fishes along the Iberian coast in the western Mediterranean

Joan Moranta, Enric Massutí, M Palmer, John D M Gordon

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18 Citations (Scopus)


The present study is a mesoscale analysis of latitude and depth related trends in abundance, biomass and body size of the four grenadier species Caelorinchus caelorhincus, Hymenocephalus italicus, Nezumia aequalis and Trachyrinchus scabrus inhabiting the deep western Mediterranean. We have analysed data from seven annual bottom trawl surveys, carried out down to 800 m depth along the Iberian Mediterranean coast covering a distance of approximately 1200 km. The objectives were to establish general patterns in the mesoscale distribution of abundance, biomass and body size of deep-water grenadier fishes and also analyse the consistency of the bathymetric distribution of these parameters along a large latitudinal gradient. Five complementary series of analyses have been completed. The first focussed on describing the general patterns of abundance and size by correspondence canonical analysis, CCA, in the area. The second and third series focussed on the existence of temporal, geographical and bathymetric trends of abundance, weight and mean size by analysis of covariance, ANCOVA and multiple regression analysis. The fourth series compared the frequency distributions of body length. Finally, the last series focussed on the patterns of abundance versus size. The total number of individuals of all four grenadier species captured in 260 bottom trawls amounted to 27,435 and their weight was 1404 kg. No general trends for the four species have been observed between years. All four species showed a general pattern of increasing size with depth, which, except in the case of C. caelorhincus, was consistent along a large latitudinal gradient. Nezumia aequalis was unique in showing the same noticeable trend of increasing abundance with depth along the entire latitudinal range, but with clear differences in the intercepts. The abundance of N. aequalis and C. caelorhincus decreased significantly northwards. Hymenocephalus italicus was the least abundant species and had a homogeneous distribution without any specific trend along the entire latitudinal range analysed. The distribution of T. scabrus in the Mediterranean seemed to be more localised. Higher abundances were found to the north and south of the latitudinal gradient with lower values between. The grenadiers studied also showed a general trend of decreasing mean size northwards, except in the case of the smallest species, H. italicus. The relation between abundance and body size differed between sectors for the whole grenadier population and species-specific variations were also observed. The relationship between individual body mass and population density fit well to a second-order polynomial function rather than to a linear regression, showing a significant trend for density to increase with increasing size until some mid-point, then to decline with increasing size thereafter. The observed latitudinal gradient in the distribution patterns of grenadiers along the upper slope of the western Mediterranean can be discussed in relation to direct and indirect factors of biogeographic, environmental and anthropogenic origin. (C) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-83
Number of pages21
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • Oceanography


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