Recruitment Ecology of pelagic fishes: jellyfish impact in nursery areas and habitat selection

Estuaries and coastal lagoons are complex highly productive ecosystems subject to multiple dynamic biotic and abiotic factors. They are known to act as important development areas for ichthyoplankton communities, however processes within these communities such as competition, predation and strategies of planktonic larvae to reach and be retained in specific areas, remain poorly understood in temperate waters. This study will examine both bottom-up and top-down processes in the early life stages of pelagic fish, with the goal of identifying variables in coastal ecosystems influencing their recruitment and spatial distribution. Our study areas are the Ria Formosa lagoon and the Guadiana and Mira Estuaries, located in the south-western part of the Iberian Peninsula. In these estuaries, jellyfish blooms occur with increasing frequency, so we will analyse zooplanktonic biomass removal via ingestion by the jellyfish Blackfordia virginica to better understand its consequences for ecosystem functioning, including energy transfers between trophic levels. Also, the influence of environmental cues such as odour and turbidity on the ability of fish larvae to find suitable near-shore nursery areas will be tested in an aquarium based experiment.

ISCED Categories

The highlighted icons, represent the fields of education (in compliance with ISCED Classification) engaged during this course/programme.

0831 - Fisheries", "0521 - Ecology