Temporal and along-shelf distribution of the larval fish assemblage at Gran Canaria, Canary Islands


  • Marta Moyano Laboratorio de Oceanografía Biológica. Facultad de Ciencias del Mar. Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
  • Santiago Hernández-León Laboratorio de Oceanografía Biológica. Facultad de Ciencias del Mar. Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria




ichthyoplankton, larval assemblages, mesozooplankton, seasonal variation, lunar illumination


Temporal and spatial variations of the larval fish community off the island of Gran Canaria (Canary Islands) were studied in weekly surveys from October 2005 to June 2006. A total of 156 taxa, belonging to 51 families and 15 orders, were identified. Myctophidae was by far the most abundant family (30%), followed by Sparidae (11%), Clupeidae (9%) and Gonostomatidae (7%). As expected for an oceanic island, neritic and oceanic taxa contributed in similar proportions. Leeward and windward retention areas were found for total egg and neritic larval abundance. However, seasonality showed a stronger influence on the annual larval assemblage than sampling site, as the latter was not significant on a long time scale. Results suggest that there are two seasonal larval assemblages corresponding to the two main characteristic periods of the water column in these waters: mixing (winter) and stratification (summer). In addition, a significant relationship was recorded between lunar illumination and small mesozooplankton biomass, suggesting that this relationship may be extended to certain neritic families. The most abundant neritic larvae (Sparidae) showed this lunar pattern, which partially supports a recent hypothesis about the effect of lunar illumination on larval fish survival and development in subtropical waters.


Download data is not yet available.


Alemany, F., S. Deudero, B. Morales-Nin, J.L. López-Jurado, J. Jansà, M. Palmer and I. Palomera. – 2006. Influence of the physical environmental factors on the composition and horizontal distribution of summer larval fish assemblages off Mallorca island (Balearic archipielago, western Mediterranean). J. Plankton Res., 28: 473-487. doi:10.1093/plankt/fbi123

Arístegui, J., S. Hernández-León, M.F. Montero and M. Gómez. – 2001. The seasonal planktonic cycle in coastal waters of the Canary islands. Sci. Mar., 65: 51-58.

Barton, E.D., J. Arístegui, P. Tett, M. Cantón, J. García-Braun, S. Hernández-León, L. Nykjaer, C. Almeida, J. Almunia, S. Ballesteros, G. Basterretxea, J. Escánez, L. García-Weill, A. Hernández-Guerra, F. López-Laatzen, R. Molina, M.F. Montero, E. Navarro-Pérez, J.M. Rodríguez, K. Van Lenning, H. Vélez and K. Wild. – 1998. The transition zone of the Canary Current upwelling region. Progr. Oceanogr., 41: 455-504. doi:10.1016/S0079-6611(98)00023-8

Beckley, L.E. and R.C. Van Ballegooyen. – 1992. Oceanographic conditions during three ichthyoplankton surveys of the agulhas Current in 1990/91. S. Afr. J. Mar. Sci., 12: 83-93.

Bécognée, P., C. Almeida, A. Barrera, A. Hernández-Guerra and S. Hernández-León. – 2006. annual cycle of clupeiform larvae around gran Canaria island, Canary islands. Fish. Oceanogr., 15: 293-300. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2419.2005.00390.x

Bekker, V.E. – 1983. Myctophid fishes of the world ocean. Nauka Press, Moscow.

Boehlert, G.W., W. Watson and L.C. Sun. – 1992. Horizontal and vertical distributions of larval fishes around an isolated oceanic island in the tropical Pacific. Deep Sea Res. I., 39(3/4): 439-466.

Boehlert, G.W. and B.C. Mundy. – 1993. Ichthyoplankton assemblages at seamounts and oceanic islands. Bull. Mar. Sci., 53(2): 336-361.

Braun, J.G. – 1980. Estudios de producción en aguas de las Islas Canarias i. Hidrografía, nutrientes y producción primaria. Bol. Inst. Esp. Oceanogr., 5: 147-154.

Clarke, K.R. and R.M. Warwick. – 2005. PriMer-6. natural environmental research Program, Plymouth.

Clarke, T.A. – 1973. Some aspects of the ecology of lanternfishes (Myctophidae) in the Pacific ocean near Hawaii. Fish. Bull., 71: 401-434.

Cowen, R.K. and L.R. Castro. – 1994. Relation of coral reef fish larval distributions to island scale circulation around Barbados, West indies. Bull. Mar. Sci., 54: 228-244.

Cowen, R.K., C.B. Paris and A. Srinivasan. – 2006. Scaling of connectivity in marine populations. Science, 311: 522-527. doi:10.1126/science.1122039 PMid:16357224

Cushing, D.H. – 1990. Plankton production and year-class strength in fish populations: an update of the match/mismatch hypothesis. Adv. Mar. Biol., 26: 249-293. doi:10.1016/S0065-2881(08)60202-3

De León, A.R. and J.G. Braun. – 1973. Annual cycle of primary production and its relation to nutrients in the Canary islands waters. Bol. Inst. Esp. Oceanogr., 167: 1-24.

Franquet, F. and A. Brito. – 1995. Especies de interés pesquero de Canarias. Consejería de Pesca y transportes del gobierno de Canarias, Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

Goodyear, R.H., B.J. Zahuranec, W.L. Pugh and R.H. Gibbs – 1972. Ecology and vertical distribution of Mediterranean midwater fishes. Mediterranean Biological Studies. U.S. Navy Office, 91-229.

Hammer, W.M. and I.R. Hauri. – 1981. effects of island mass: water flow and plankton pattern around a reef in the great Barrier reef lagoon, australia. Limnol. Oceanogr., 26: 1084-1102.

Hernández-León, S. – 1988. gradients of mesozooplankton biomass and ets activity in the wind-shear area as evidence of an island mass effect in the Canary island waters. J. Plankton Res., 10: 1141-1154. doi:10.1093/plankt/10.6.1141

Hernández-León, S. – 1998. annual cycle of epiplanktonic copepods in Canary island waters. Fish. Oceanogr., 7: 252-257. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2419.1998.00071.x

Hernández-León, S. – 2008. natural variability of fisheries and lunar illumination: a hypothesis. Fish Fish., 9: 1-17.

Hernández-León, S., C. Almeida, L. Yebra, J. Arístegui, M. L. Fernández de Puelles and J. García-Braun. – 2001. Zooplankton abundance in subtropical waters: is there a lunar cycle? Sci. Mar., 65: 59-63.

Hernández-León, S., C. Almeida, P. Bécognée, L. Yebra and J. Arístegui. – 2004. Zooplankton biomass and indices of grazing and metabolism during a late winter bloom in subtropical waters. Mar. Biol., 145: 1191-1200. doi:10.1007/s00227-004-1396-5

Hernández-León, S., M. Gómez and J. Arístegui. – 2007. Mesozooplankton in the Canary Current System: the coastal-ocean transition zone. Progr. Oceanogr., 74: 397-421. doi:10.1016/j.pocean.2007.04.010

Hjort, J. – 1914. Fluctuations in the great fisheries of northern europe viewed in the light of biological research. Rapp. P.-v. Reun. Cons. Int. Explor. Mer., 20: 1-228.

Houde, E.D. – 1987. Fish early life dynamics and recruitment variability. Am. Fish. Soc. Symp. Ser., 2: 17-29.

Houde, E.D. – 2008. Emerging from Hjort’s shadow. J. Northwest Atl. Fish. Sci., 41: 53-70. doi:10.2960/J.v41.m634

Isari, S., N. Fragopoulu and S. Somarakis. – 2008. Interranual variability in horizontal patterns of larval fish assemblages in the northeastern aegean Sea (eastern Mediterranean) during early summer. Est. Coast Shelf. Sci., 79: 607-619.

Jones, G.P., M.J. Millcich, M.J. Emsile and C. Lunow. – 1999. Self-recruitment in a coral fish population. Nature, 402: 802-804. doi:10.1038/45538

La Violette, P.E. – 1974. a satellite-aircraft thermal study of the upwelled waters off Spanish Sahara. J. Phys. Oceanogr., 4: 676-684. doi:10.1175/1520-0485(1974)004<0676:ASATSO>2.0.CO;2

Landeira, J.M., F. Lozano-Soldevilla, S. Hernández-León and E.D. Barton. – 2009. Horizontal distribution of invertebrate larvae around the oceanic island of gran Canaria: the effect of mesoscale variability. Sci. Mar., 73(4): 761-771. doi:10.3989/scimar.2009.73n4757

Leis, J.M. – 1982. Nearshore distributional gradients of larval fish (15 taxa) and planktonic crustaceans (6 taxa) in Hawaii. Mar. Biol., 72: 89-97. doi:10.1007/BF00393952

Leis, J.M. – 1991. The pelagic phase of coral reef fishes: larval biology of coral reef fishes. in: P.F. Sale (ed.), The ecology of fishes on coral reefs, pp. 183-230. Academic Press, San Diego.

Leis, J.M. – 2007. Behaviour as input for modelling dispersal of fish larvae: behaviour, biogeography, hydrodynamics, ontogeny, physiology and phylogeny meet hydrography. Mar. Ecol. Progr. Ser., 347: 185-193. doi:10.3354/meps06977

Loeb, V.J. – 1980. Patterns of spatial and species abundance within the larval fish assemblage of the north Pacific Central gyre during late summer. Mar. Biol., 60: 189-200. doi:10.1007/BF00389162

Longhurst, A.R. and D. Pauly. – 1987. Ecology of tropical oceans. Academic Press, San Diego.

Lorenzo, J.M. and J.G. Pajuelo. – 1996. growth and reproductive biology of chub mackerel Scomber japonicus off the Canary islands. S. Afr. J. Mar. Sci., 17: 275-280.

Lovegrove, t. – 1966. the determination of the dry weight of plankton and the effect of various factors on the values obtained. in: H. Barnes (ed.), Some contemporary studies in Marine Sciences, pp. 429-467. George Allen and Unwin Ltd., London.

Lowe-McConnell, R.H. – 1987. Ecological studies in tropical fish communities. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.

Moyano, M., J. Rodríguez and S. Hernández-León. – 2009. Larval fish abundance and distribution during the late winter bloom in the Canary island waters. Fish. Oceanogr., 18: 51-61. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2419.2008.00496.x

Muhling, B.A., L.E. Beckley, J.A. Koslow and A.F. Pearce. – 2008. Larval fish assemblages and water mass structure off the oligotrophic south-western australian coast. Fish. Oceanogr., 17: 16-31.

Olivar, M.P. and I. Palomera. – 1994. Ontogeny and distribution of Hygophum benoiti (Pisces, Myctophidae) of the north Western Mediterranean. J. Plankton Res., 16: 977-991. doi:10.1093/plankt/16.8.977

Pacheco, M. and A. Hernández-guerra. – 1999. Seasonal variability of recurrent phytoplankton pigment patterns in the Canary islands area. Int. J. Remote Sens., 20: 1405-1418. doi:10.1080/014311699212795

Paris, C.B. and R.K. Cowen. – 2004. Direct evidence of a biophysical retention mechanism for coral reef fish larvae. Limnol. Oceanogr., 49: 1964-1979.

Queró, J.C., J.C. Hureau, C. Karrer, A. Post and L. Saldanha. – 1990. Check List of the fishes of the Eastern Tropical Atlantic. JniCt, Lisbon; Sei, Paris; and UneSCo, Paris.

Rodríguez, J.M. – 2000. Fish larvae from the Canary region in autumn. Sci. Mar., 64: 79-85.

Rodríguez, J.M., S. Hernández-León and E.D. Barton. – 1999. Mesoscale distribution of fish larvae in relation to an upwelling filament off northwest africa. Deep Sea Res. I, 46: 1969-1984. doi:10.1016/S0967-0637(99)00036-9

Rodríguez, J.M., J.G. Braun and A. García. – 2000. Spatial variability of the mesozooplankton biomass and ichthyoplankton in the Canary region, in autumn 1991. J. Plankton Res., 22: 1377-1391. doi:10.1093/plankt/22.7.1377

Rodríguez, J.M., E.D. Barton, L. Eve and S. Hernández-León.– 2001. Mesozooplankton and ichthyoplankton distribution around gran Canaria, an oceanic island in the ne atlantic. Deep Sea Res. I, 48: 2161-2183. doi:10.1016/S0967-0637(01)00013-9

Sabatés, A. – 1990. distribution pattern of larval fish populations in the northwestern Mediterranean. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser., 59: 75-82. doi:10.3354/meps059075

Sabatés, A., P. Martín, J. Lloret and V. Raya. – 2006. Sea warming and fish distribution: the case of the small pelagic fish, Sardinella aurita, in the western Mediterraean. Glob. Change Biol., 12: 2209-2219. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2486.2006.01246.x

Sangrá, P., M. Auladell, A. Marrero-Díaz, J.L. Pelegrí, E. Fraile-Nuez, A. Rodríguez-Santana, J.M. Martín, E. Mason and A. Hernández-Guerra. – 2007. on the nature of oceanic eddies shed by the island of gran Canaria. Deep Sea Res. I, 54: 687-709. doi:10.1016/j.dsr.2007.02.004

Smith, K.A. and I.M. Suthers. – 1999. displacement of diverse ichthyoplankton assemblages by a coastal upwelling event on the Sydney shelf. Mar. Ecol. Progr. Ser., 176: 49-62. doi:10.3354/meps176049

Somarakis, S., P. Drakopoulos and V. Filippou. – 2002. distribution and abundance of larval fish in the northern aegean Sea eastern Mediterranean in relation to early summer oceanographic conditions. J. Plankton Res., 24: 339-357. doi:10.1093/plankt/24.4.339

Swearer, S.E., J.E. Casselle, D.W. Lea and R.R. Warner. – 1999. Larval retention and recruitment in an island population of a coral-reef fish. Nature, 402: 799-802. doi:10.1038/45533

Yentsch, C.S. and D.W. Menzel. – 1963. a method for the determination of phytoplankton chlorophyll and phaeophytin fluorescence. Deep Sea Res. I, 10: 221-231.




How to Cite

Moyano M, Hernández-León S. Temporal and along-shelf distribution of the larval fish assemblage at Gran Canaria, Canary Islands. scimar [Internet]. 2009Oct.30 [cited 2022Aug.12];73(S1):85-96. Available from: https://scientiamarina.revistas.csic.es/index.php/scientiamarina/article/view/1111




Most read articles by the same author(s)