Seasonality of planktonic crustacean decapod larvae in the subtropical waters of Gran Canaria Island, NE Atlantic




decapod larvae, phenology, assemblages, temperature, subtropical waters, Canary Islands


A monitoring programme was established to collect plankton samples and information of environmental variables over the shelf off the island of Gran Canaria during 2005 and 2006. It produced a detailed snapshot of the composition and seasonal assemblages of the decapod larvae community in this locality, in the subtropical waters of the Canary Islands (NE Atlantic), where information about crustacean phenology has been poorly studied. The larval community was mainly composed of benthic taxa, but the contribution of pelagic taxa was also significant. Infraorders Anomura (33.4%) and Caridea (32.8%) accounted for more than half the total collected larvae. High diversity, relatively low larval abundance throughout the year and weak seasonality characterized the annual cycle. However, in relation to the temporal dynamics of temperature, two distinct larval assemblages (cold and warm) were identified that correspond to periods of mixing and stratification of the water column. The results also indicate that larval release times and durations in the subtropical waters are earlier and longer than at other higher latitudes in the NE Atlantic. We detected the presence of larvae of six species that have not yet been reported from the Canary Islands (Pandalina brevirostris, Processa edulis, Necallianasa truncata, Parapenaeus longirostris, Crangon crangon, Nematopagurus longicornis). Finally, this study provides a baseline for future comparisons with respect to fishery pressure and climate variability in this subtropical region.


Download data is not yet available.


Afonso-Carrillo J., Sansón M., Sangil C. 2006. First report of Reticulocaulis mucosissimus (Naccariaceae, Rhodophyta) for the Atlantic Ocean. Cryptogamie Algol. 27: 255-264.

Afonso-Carrillo J., Sansón M., Sangil C., et al. 2007. New records of benthic marine algae from the Canary Islands (eastern Atlantic Ocean): morphology, taxonomy and distribution. Bot. Mar. 50: 119-127.

Anger K. 2001. The Biology of Decapod Crustacean Larvae. Crustacean Issues: 14. A.A. Balkema Publishers.

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

Ariza V., Garijo J.C., Landeira J.M., et al. 2015. Migrant biomass and respiratory carbon flux by zooplankton and micronekton in the north east Atlantic Ocean (Canary Islands). Prog. Oceanogr. 134: 330-342.

Barton E.D., Arístegui J., Tett P., et al. 1998. The transition zone of the Canary Current upwelling region. Prog. Oceanogr. 41: 455-504.

Bauer R.T. 1992. Testing generalizations about latitudinal variation in reproduction and recruitment patterns with sicyoniid and caridean shrimp species. Invertebr. Reprod. Dev. 3: 193-202.

Bourdillon-Casanova L. 1960. Le méroplancton du Golfe de Marseille. Les larves de Crustacés Décapodes. Rec. Trav. Stat. Mar. d'Endoume 30: 1-286.

Brandão M.C., Koettker A.G., Freire A.S. 2012. Abundance and composition of decapod larvae at Saint Paul's Rocks (equatorial Atlantic). Mar. Ecol. 34: 171-185.

Brito A. 2008. Influencia del calentamiento global sobre la biodiversidad marina de las Islas Canarias. In: Afonso-Carrillo J. (ed.), Naturaleza amenazada por los cambios en el clima. Actas III Semana Científica Telesforo Bravo. IEHC, Puerto de la Cruz, pp. 141-161.

Brito A., Falcón J.M., Herrera R. 2005. Sobre la tropicalización reciente de la ictiofauna litoral de las islas Canarias y su relación con los cambios ambientales y actividades antrópicas. Vieraea 33: 515-525.

Brochier T., Mason E., Moyano M., et al. 2011. Ichthyoplankton transport from the African coast to the Canary Islands. J. Mar. Syst. 89: 109-122.

Clark P.F., Dionisio M.A., Costa A. 2004. Microcassiope minor (Dana, 1852): a description of the first stage zoea (Crustacea: Decapoda: Brachyura: Xanthidae). Medit. Mar. Sci. 5: 23-33.

Clarke K., Gorley R. 2006. PRIMER v6: user manual/tutorial. PRIMER-E Ltd., Plymouth.

Clarke K., Warwick R. 2001. Change in Marine Communities: An Approach to Statistical Analysis and Interpretation. 2nd edition: PRIMER-E, Plymouth.

Clemente S., Rodríguez A., Brito A., et al. 2011. On the occurrence of the hydrocoral Millepora (Hydrozoa: Milleporidae) in the subtropical eastern Atlantic (Canary Islands): is the colonization related to climatic events? Coral Reefs 30: 237-240.

De Grave S., Pentcheff N.D., Ahyong S.T. et al. 2009. A classification of living and fossil genera of decapod crustaceans. Raff. Bull. Zool. 21: 1-109.

Dos Santos A. 1999. Larvas de crustáceos decápodes ao largo da costa portuguesa. PhD thesis. Universidade de Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal, 278 pp.

Dos Santos A., González-Gordillo J.I. 2004. Illustrated key for the identification of the Pleocyemata (Crustacea: Decapoda) zoeal stages, from the coastal region of south-western Europe. J. Mar. Biol. Assoc. U.K. 84: 205-227.

Dos Santos A., Lindley J.A. 2001. Crustacea Decapada: Larvae. II Dendrobranchiata. (Aristeidae, Benthesicymidae, Penaeidae, Solenoceridae, Sicyonidae, Sergestidae and Luciferidae). ICES Identif. Leafl. Plankton 186.

D'Udekem d'Acoz C. 1999. Inventaire et distribution des crustacés décapodes de l'Atlantique nord-oriental, de la Méditerranée et des eaux continentales adjacentes au nord de 25°N. Belgique. Patrimoines naturels (MNHN/SPN) 40: 1-383.

D'Udekem d'Acoz C. Wirtz P. 2002. Observations on some interesting coastal Crustacea Decapoda from the Azores, with a key to the genus Eualus Thallwitz, 1892 in the Northeastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean. Arquip.: Life Earth Sci. 19: 67-84.

Eckman J.E. 1996. Closing the larval loop: linking larval ecology to the population dynamics of marine benthic invertebrates. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 200: 207-237.

Epifanio C.E., Dittel A.I. 1984. Seasonal abundance of brachyuran crab larvae in a tropical estuary: Gulf of Nicoya, Costa Rica, Central América. Estuaries 7: 501-505.

Flores A.A.V., Cruz J., Paula J. 2002. Temporal and spatial patterns of settlement of brachyuran crab megalopae at a rocky coast in central Portugal. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 229: 207-220.

Fusté X. 1982. Ciclo anual de las larvas de Crustáceos Decápodos de la costa de Barcelona. Invest. Pesq. 46: 287-303.

García-Sanz S., Navarro P.G., Landeira J.M., et al. 2014. Colonization patterns of decapods into artificial collectors: seasonality between habitat patches. J. Crustac. Biol. 34: 431-441.

González J.A. 1995. Catálogo de los Crustáceos Decápodos de las Marina 1, ULPGC, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain. pp 1-282.

González J.A. 2016. Brachyuran crabs (Crustacea: Decapoda) from the Canary Islands (eastern Atlantic): checklist, zoogeographic considerations, and conservation. Sci. Mar. 80: 89-102.

González J.A., Quiles J.A. 2003. Orden Decapoda. In: Moro L., Martín J.L., et al. (eds). Lista de especies marinas de Canarias (algas, hongos, plantas y animales). Consejería de Política Territorial y Medio Ambiente del Gobierno de Canarias. pp. 248.

González J.A., Pajuelo J.G., Triay-Portella R., et al. 2016a. Latitudinal patterns in the life-history traits of three isolated Atlantic populations of the deep-water shrimp Plesionika edwardsii (Decapoda, Pandalidae). Deep-Sea Res. I 117: 28-38.

González J.A., Triay-Portella J.A., Santana J.I. 2016b. Southernmost record of Spongiocaris koehleri (Decapoda, Stenopodidea, Spongicolidae) off the Canary Islands. Crustaceana 89: 1233-1238.

González J.A., Triay-Portella R., Escribano A., et al. 2017. Northernmost record of the pantropical portunid crab Cronius ruber in the eastern Atlantic (Canary Islands): natural range extension or human-mediated introduction? Sci. Mar. 81: 81-89.

González-Gordillo J.I., Rodríguez A. 2003. Comparative seasonal and spatial distribution of decapod larvae assemblages in three coastal zones off the south-western Iberian Peninsula. Acta Oecol. 24: S219-S233.

González-Gordillo J.I., dos Santos A., Rodríguez A. 2001. Checklist and annotated bibliography of decapod crustacean larvae from the Southwestern European coast (Gibraltar Strait area). Sci. Mar. 65: 275-305.

Hernández J.C., Clemente S., Girard D., et al. 2010. Effect of temperature on settlement and postsettlement survival in a barrens-forming sea urchin. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 413: 69-80.

Hernández-Guerra A., Arístegui J., Cantón M., et al. 1993. Phytoplankton pigment patterns in the Canary Islands as determined using Coastal Zone Colour Scanner data. Int. J. Remote Sens. 14: 1431-1437.

Highfield J.M., Eloire D., Conway D.V.P., et al. 2010. Seasonal dynamics of meroplankton assemblages at station L4. J. Plankton Res. 32: 681-691.

Holthuis L.B. 1980. FAO species catalogue. Vol. 1. Shrimps and prawns of the world. An annotated catalogue of species of interest to fisheries. FAO Fish. Synop. 125: 1-261.

Ji R., Edwards M., Mackas D.I., et al. 2010. Marine plankton phenology and life history in a changing climate: current research and future directions. J. Plankton Res. 32: 1355-1368. PMid:20824042 PMCid:PMC2933132

Jones G.P., Srinivasan M., Alamany G.R. 2007. Population connectivity and conservation of marine biodiversity. Oceanography 20: 100-111.

Kemp S.W. 1910. The Decapoda collected by the "Huxley" from the North Side of the Bay of Biscay in August, 1906. J. Mar. Biol. Assoc. UK 8: 407-420.

Kirby R.R., Beaugrand G. 2009. Trophic amplification of climate warming. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. Ser. B Biol. Sci. 276: 4095-4103.

Kirby R., Beaugrand G., Lindley J.A. 2008. Climate-induced effects on the meroplankton and the benthic-pelagic ecology of the North Sea. Limnol. Oceanogr. 53: 1805-1815.

Landeira J.M., Cuesta J.A. 2012. Morphology of the second zoeal stage of Grapsus adscensionis (Osbeck, 1765) (Crustacea, Decapoda, Grapsoidea) confirms larval characters of the family Grapsidae. Zootaxa 64: 59-64.

Landeira J.M., Lozano-Soldevilla F., Hernández-León S., et al. 2009. Horizontal distribution of invertebrate larvae around the oceanic island of Gran Canaria: the effect of mesoscale variability. Sci. Mar. 73: 761-771.

Landeira J.M., Lozano-Soldevilla F., Hernández-León S., et al. 2010. Spatial variability of planktonic invertebrate larvae in the Canary Islands area. J. Mar. Biol. Assoc. UK 90: 1217-1225.

Landeira J.M., Lozano-Soldevilla F., Barton E.D. 2012. Mesoscale advection of Upogebia pusilla larvae through an upwelling filament in the Canaries Coastal Transition Zone (CTZ). Helgol. Mar. Res. 66: 537-544.

Landeira J.M., Lozano-Soldevilla F., Hernández-León S. 2013. Temporal and alongshore distribution of decapod larvae in the oceanic island of Gran Canaria (NW Africa). J. Plankton Res. 35: 309-322.

Landeira J.M., Jiang G.-C., Chan T.-Y., et al. 2014. Description of the decapodid stage of Plesionika narval (Fabricius, 1787) (Decapoda: Caridea: Pandalidae) identified by DNA barcoding. J. Crustac. Biol. 34: 377-387.

Landeira J.M., Jiang G.-C., Chan T.-Y., et al. 2015. Redescription of the early larval stages of the pandalid shrimp Chlorotocus crassicornis (Decapoda: Caridea: Pandalidae). Zootaxa 4013: 100-110. PMid:26623885

Landeira J.M., Brochier T., Mason E., et al. 2017. Transport pathways of decapod larvae under intense mesoscale activity in the Canary-African Coastal Transition Zone: implications for population connectivity. Sci. Mar. 81: 299-315.

Lindley J.A., Williams R., Hunt H.G. 1993. Anomalous seasonal cycles of decapod crustacean larvae in the North Sea plankton in an abnormally warm year. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 172: 47–65.

Lindley J.A., Beaugrand G., Luczak C., et al. 2010. Warm-water decapods and the trophic amplification of climate in the North Sea. Biol. Lett. 6: 773-776. PMid:20554562 PMCid:PMC3001376

Martin J.W., Olesen J., Høeg J.T. 2014. Atlas of Crustacean Larvae. John Hopkins Univ. Press.

Marco-Herrero E., Drake P., Cuesta J.A. 2017. Larval morphology and DNA barcodes as valuable tools in early detection of marine invaders: a new pea crab found in European waters. J. Mar. Biol. Assoc. UK 1-9.

Morgan S.G., Anastasia J.R. 2008. Behavioral tradeoff in estuarine larvae favors seaward migration over minimizing visibility to predators. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 105: 222-227. PMid:18172217 PMCid:PMC2224190

Moro L., Herrera R., Ortea J., et al. 2014. Aportaciones al conocimiento y distribución de los decápodos y estomatópodos (Crustacea: Malacostraca) de las islas Canarias. Rev. Acad. Canar. Cienc. 26: 33-82.

Moyano M., Hernández-León S. 2011. Intra- and interannual variability in the larval fish assemblage off Gran Canaria (Canary Islands) over 2005–2007. Mar. Biol. 158: 257-273.

Pan M., Pierce G.J., Cunningham C.O., et al. 2011. Seasonal and interannual variation of decapod larval abundance from two coastal locations in Scotland, UK. J. Mar. Biol. Assoc. UK 91: 1443-1451.

Parmesan C. 2006. Ecological and evolutionary responses to recent climate change. Annu. Rev. Ecol. Evol. Syst. 37: 637-669.

Paula J. 1987. Seasonal distribution of Crustacea Decapoda larvae in S. Torpes bay, South-western Portugal. Inves. Pesq. 51: 267-275.

Paula J., Cartaxana A. 1991. Complete larval development of the spider crab Stenorhynchus lanceolatus (Brullé 1838) (Decapoda, Brachyura, Majidae), reared in the laboratory. Crustaceana 60: 113-122.

Queiroga H., Blanton J. 2005. Interactions between behaviour and physical forcing in the control of horizontal transport of decapod crustacean larvae. Adv. Mar. Biol. 47: 107-214.

Reyns N., Sponaugle S. 1999. Patterns and processes of brachyuran crab settlement to Caribbean coral reefs. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 185: 155-170.

Sangil C., Sansón M., Afonso-Carrillo J., et al. 2012. Changes in subtidal assemblages in a scenario of warming: Proliferations of ephemeral benthic algae in the Canary Islands (eastern Atlantic Ocean). Mar. Environ. Res. 77: 120-128. PMid:22513243

Sangrà P., Auladell M., Marrero-Díaz A., et al. 2007. On the nature of oceanic eddies shed by the Island of Gran Canaria. Deep-Sea Res. I 54: 687-709.

Shanks A.L. 1995. Mechanisms of cross-shelf dispersal of larval invertebrates and fish. In: McEdward L.R. (ed.) Ecology of Marine Invertebrate larvae, CRC Press, Boca Raton, F.L., pp. 323-367.

Shirley S.M., Shirley T.C. 1989. Interannual variability in density, timing and survival of Alaskan red king crab Paralithodes camtschatica larvae. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 54: 51-59.

Starr M., Himmelman J., Therriault J. 1990. Direct coupling of marine invertebrate spawning with phytoplankton blooms. Science 247: 1071-1074. PMid:17800066

Stübner E.I., Søreide J.E., Reigstad M., et al. 2016. Year-round meroplankton dynamics in high-Arctic Svalbard. J. Plankton Res. 38: 522-536.

Torres A.P., dos Santos A., Cuesta J.A., et al. 2012. First record of Palaemon macrodactylus Rathbun, 1902 (Decapoda, Palaemonidae) in the western Mediterranean. Mediterr. Mar. Sci. 13: 278-282.

Torres A.P., dos Santos A., Alemany F., et al. 2013. Larval stages of crustacean species of interest for conservation and fishing exploitation in the western Mediterranean. Sci. Mar. 77: 149-160.

Torres A.P., dos Santos A., Balbín R., et al. 2014. Decapod crustacean larval communities in the Balearic Sea (western Mediterranean): seasonal composition, horizontal and vertical distribution patterns. J. Mar. Syst. 138: 112-126.

Triay-Portella R., Ruiz-Díaz R., Pajuelo J.G., et al. 2017. Ovarian maturity, egg development, and offspring generation of the deep-water shrimp Plesionika edwardsii (Decapoda, Pandalidae) from three isolated populations in the eastern North Atlantic. Mar. Biol. Res. 13: 174-187.

Tuset V.M., Pérez-Pe-alvo J.A., Delgado J., et al. 2009. Biology of the deep-water shrimp Heterocarpus ensifer (Caridea: Pandalidae) off the Canary, Madeira and the Azores islands (Northeastern Atlantic). J. Crustac. Biol. 2: 507-515.

Vélez-Belchí P., González M., Pérez-Hernández M.D., et al. 2015. Internannual, interdecadal and long-term variability. Open ocean temperature and salinity trends in the Canary Current large marine ecosystem. In Valdés L., Déniz-González D. (ed), Oceanographic and Biological Features in the Canary Current Large Marine Ecosystem, IOC-UNESCO, Paris. IOC Tech. Ser. 115: 299-308.

White J.W., Morgan S.G., Fisher J.L. 2014. Planktonic larval mortality rates are lower than widely expected. Ecology 95: 3344-3353.



How to Cite

Landeira JM, Lozano-Soldevilla F. Seasonality of planktonic crustacean decapod larvae in the subtropical waters of Gran Canaria Island, NE Atlantic. scimar [Internet]. 2018Jun.30 [cited 2023Oct.4];82(2):119-34. Available from: