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Growth and condition of juvenile sole (Solea solea L.) as indicators of habitat quality in coastal and estuarine nurseries in the Bay of Biscay with a focus on sites exposed to Erika oil spill
Camille Gilliers, Olivier Le Pape, Yves Desaunay, Jean-Pierre Bergeron, Nathalie Schreiber, Daniel Guerault and Rachid Amara

Indicators of growth and condition were used to compare the habitat quality of nurseries of juvenile sole (Solea solea L.) in the Bay of Biscay, based on one survey in 2000. The four biological indicators are poorly correlated with each other, suggesting that no single measure may give an adequate description of fish health and of its habitat’s quality. Growth indicators showed significant differences between northern and southern areas. Juveniles from the two southernmost nurseries, the Gironde estuary and the Pertuis Antioche, displayed significant lower otolith increment widths and mean sizes. These differences were inversely related to water temperature and unrelated to genetic or age differences, and are unlikely to be due to limiting trophic conditions in the nurseries. Hence, they may be considered in terms of differences in habitat quality and potential anthropogenic impacts. Condition indices do not show this north-south pattern but highlight low condition values in the Pertuis Antioche. Short-term and fluctuating biochemical indicators such as RNA/DNA ratios appeared to be unreliable over a long-term study, while morphometric indices seemed to be relevant, complementary indicators as they integrate the whole juvenile life-history of sole in the nurseries. The growth and condition indices of juveniles in September 2000 from nursery grounds exposed to the Erika oil spill in December 1999 were relatively high. These results lead us to suggest that there was no obvious impact of this event on the health of juvenile sole and on the quality of the exposed nursery grounds a few months after the event.

Keywords: essential fish habitat, otolith daily increment width, RNA/DNA, Erika oil spill.
Contents of this volume Sci. Mar. 70S1 : 183-192 Back PDF
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