Scientia Marina, Vol 75, No 1 (2011)

Assessment of Diplodus spp. (Sparidae) nursery grounds along the rocky shore of Marseilles (France, NW Mediterranean)

Adrien Cheminee
Centre d’Océanologie de Marseille, UMR CNRS 6540, Université de la Méditerranée - Université de Nice-Sophia Antipolis, EA 4228 ECOMERS - Centre d’Estudis Avançats de Blanes (CEAB, CSIC) , France

Patrice Francour
Université de Nice-Sophia Antipolis, EA 4228 ECOMERS , France

Mireille Harmelin-Vivien
Centre d’Océanologie de Marseille, UMR CNRS 6540, Université de la Méditerranée , France


This work aimed at performing a large scale assessment of Diplodus spp. (Sparidae) nurseries along the rocky shore of Marseilles (France, NW Mediterranean) by locating and quantifying nursery microhabitats and estimating the settlement pattern along this shore in 2004. Nursery grounds of Diplodus spp. represented only 9% of the 52 km-long rocky shore of Marseilles. Their location, shallow rocky habitats sheltered within coves, made them vulnerable to human-induced habitat transformations. D. vulgaris settled along this coast at the end of February 2004 and D. puntazzo settled a couple of months earlier. Maximum densities observed reached 215 and 67 ind./100 m for D. vulgaris and D. puntazzo respectively. The settlement rates were spatially variable. At a regional scale, lower settlement rates were observed within the south and centre zones, compared to those observed in the west, east, and the Marseilles Bay zones. Suitable nurseries along this shore seem insufficient for the replenishment of adult assemblages, which suggests that they depend on the migration of adults from other areas. Along the Marseilles rocky shore, coastal development projects leading to the destruction of habitats would represent a major threat to the Diplodus life cycle, which could be even greater than usual given the vulnerability and small size of the nurseries. These results show that it is necessary to protect these scarce local nursery habitats and manage other nearby nurseries to ensure the survival of fish at a critical life stage and the replenishment of adult assemblages.


Diplodus; nursery microhabitats; settlement; settlers; juveniles; shallow rocky habitat; habitat transformation; coastal zone management

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