Marine Research Findings of the VECTORS Project

This website provides access to the research results of the VECTORS project, which can be used to support marine management decisions, policies and governance as well as future research and investment. VECTORS was a large scale project that brought together more than 200 expert researchers from 16 different countries. It examined the significant changes taking place in European seas, their causes, and the impacts they will have on society.

Effects of water temperature on the distribution of round sardinella along the Catalan coast

The Mediterranean sea naturally encompasses a fish fauna of subtropical and temperate origin. Species of subtropical origin are found mainly in the eastern basin and in southern Mediterranean, where surface water temperature is higher than average. Cold-temperate species inhabit the northern areas - the Gulf of Lions, Ligurian Sea and northern Adriatic sea - where the water temperature is colder. Physical and biological changes in recent decades have been documented as a response to climate forcing: Significant increase in temperature for deep, intermediate and surface waters. In addition, there is evidence that the distribution range of fishes and benthic organisms characteristic of warm waters has expanded, and that their presence is more frequent in the colder, northern sector. In the last two decades, an increasing abundance and northward expansion of the thermophilic, small pelagic fish Sardinella aurita has been documented in the western Mediterranean1.


Future scenarios of warmer seas may lead to round sardinella (Sardinella aurita) migrating north along the Western Mediterranean seaboard and outcompeting anchovy (Engraulis encrasicolus) because round sardinella is a thermophile species and early life stages of both species have overlapping diets2.

Maynou et al.3, analysing high-resolution environmental data measured during ichthyoplankton (eggs and larvae) surveys in the exceptionally hot summer of 2003 and the climatic summer of 2004, showed that sea surface temperature is the main factor affecting the abundance and distribution of the early life stages of the range-expanding gilt head sardine, while the native summer-spawning small-pelagic in the area, the anchovy suffers a decrease in larvae abundance at high temperatures. Over temperature ranges within the climatic average in the area (20-26°C in summer), larvae of both species coexist in the plankton, although gilt head sardine has a preference for warmer temperatures, being practically absent in the cold northern part of the area where anchovy is abundant.


Lead Author:

Ana Sabatés & Francesc Maynou
Agrocampus Ouest (AGRO)
Date of research: January 2014

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Climate change: flatfish and shrimp fisheries 

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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no 266445
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