Primary research paper

Hydrobiologia

, Volume 661, Issue 1, pp 445-456

First online:

Ontogenetic habitat preferences of the narrownose smooth-hound shark, Mustelus schmitti, in two Southwestern Atlantic coastal areas

  • Federico CortésAffiliated withInstituto Nacional de Investigación y Desarrollo Pesquero (INIDEP)Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET) Email author 
  • , Andrés J. JaureguizarAffiliated withInstituto Nacional de Investigación y Desarrollo Pesquero (INIDEP)Comisión de Investigaciones Científicas de la Provincia de Buenos Aires (CIC)
  • , Roberto C. MenniAffiliated withConsejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET)
  • , Raúl A. GuerreroAffiliated withInstituto Nacional de Investigación y Desarrollo Pesquero (INIDEP)Departamento de Ciencias Marinas, Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata (UNMDP)

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Abstract

The aim of this study was to determine the ontogenetic habitat preferences of the narrownose smooth-hound shark, Mustelus schmitti, in Río de la Plata and El Rincón coastal areas. There, canonical correspondence analyses of fishery research survey data showed that M. schmitti ontogenetic stages were differentially affected by depth, temperature and salinity. Neonates and juveniles were more abundant and remain in nearshore waters, suggesting the presence of nursery areas in which food availability and environmental conditions allow a faster growth. Adults M. schmitti presented different environmental associations mainly associated with depth and temperature. During non-reproductive season they were associated with deeper coastal waters. With the arrival of the reproductive season, adults migrate from deep to nearshore waters and show sexual segregation associated with pre- or post-mating behaviors. Hence, the year-round presence of neonates and juveniles and the seasonal occurrence of adults in nearshore waters make this habitat essential to M. schmitti population dynamics since key ontogenetic stages will be vulnerable if a direct impact occurs there.

Keywords

Habitat use Essential fish habitat Shark nursery area Sexual segregation Distribution pattern