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Changes in occurrence and abundance of northern / southern flatfishes over a 20-year period in a coastal nursery area (Bay of Vilaine) and on the eastern continental shelf of the Bay of Biscay
Yves Désaunay, Daniel Guérault, Olivier Le Pape and Jean-Charles Poulard

Several works have demonstrated trends in the distribution of fish species relative to global warming. This study investigated whether similar trends have occurred for selected flatfish species on the continental shelf of the Bay of Biscay. These species were used as indicators and changes in their populations were studied in a coastal nursery ground where flatfish juveniles are concentrated as well as on the entire shelf. Previous studies analysing changes in sea surface temperature for the continental shelf indicate that winter warming occurred in the 1980s and 1990s. Sixteen autumn cruises conducted since 1981 in the Bay of Vilaine nursery area and 11 autumn cruises since 1987 over the entire shelf provided data on a nearly annual basis for the abundance of benthic fish. The four most common flatfish species were selected and their occurrence and yearly abundance were analysed with regard to specific biogeographic ranges and climate change. Similar results were obtained for juveniles on a nursery scale and for all age groups on the entire shelf. Although sole (Solea solea) showed irregular yearly variations, northern winter spawners such as plaice (Pleuronectes platessa) and dab (Limanda limanda) exhibited significantly high abundance during the 1980s, followed by a continuing low level and ultimately zero catches. On the other hand, the wedge sole (Dicologoglossa cuneata), a southern summer spawner, showed an increasing trend in the late 1990s.

Keywords: flatfish, spatial distribution, ocean warming, Bay of Biscay.
Contents of this volume Sci. Mar. 70S1 : 193-200 Back PDF
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