Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 98, Issue 1, pp 287–300 | Cite as

Population structure, production and feeding habit of the sand goby Pomatoschistus minutus (Actinopterygii: Gobiidae) in the Minho estuary (NW Iberian Peninsula)

  • A. T. Souza
  • E. Dias
  • J. C. Marques
  • C. Antunes
  • I. Martins


Estuaries are highly productive and heterogeneous ecosystems, and hence they provide an excellent opportunity to study the population structure and feeding patterns of euryhaline species like the sand goby Pomatoschistus minutus. In this context the population dynamics of the sand goby was investigated during 18 months in the Minho estuary (NW Iberian Peninsula). The fish density varied significantly among estuarine areas and seasons, with most of the individuals being caught near the river mouth during the autumn (38 % of the total). Males, females and juveniles were not spatially segregated, as well as fishes belonging to different size classes. The sand goby fed mostly on crustaceans (Frequency of Occurrence - FO) = 35 %; Relative Abundance - RA = 40 %), detritus (FO = 27 %; RA = 23 %) and annelids (FO = 15 %; RA = 14 %), with no obvious difference between the diet of males and females. The density (up to 20 times) and the secondary production (up to 16 times) of the sand goby were substantially higher than in other southern European estuaries. Our results highlighted that the population dynamics of the sand goby can vary considerably among nearby systems and that the Minho estuary, probably due to the lower temperature and salinity values and also the different water circulation regime found in this system when compared to other Iberian estuaries, promotes noticeable differences on the P. minutus population dynamics.


Competition Diet Fish Minho estuary Population ecology 



The authors would like to thanks Eduardo Martins for helping during the field campaign in the Minho estuary. We would like also to thank Fabiana Freitas, Felipe Ribas, João Moura and Jorge Araújo for their valuable help in the lab. This research was approved by the university’s animal welfare and ethics committee and was supported by a grant from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA Financial Mechanism and the Norwegian Financial Mechanism. A.T. Souza has a PhD grant (SFRH/BD/71232/2010) from the Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (Portugal). I. Martins was financed for CIÊNCIA 2007 and the project INPACTAR PTDC/MAR/111537/2009; FCT; COMPETE; QREN; UE.

Supplementary material

10641_2014_259_MOESM1_ESM.doc (138 kb)
ESM 1 (DOC 138 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. T. Souza
    • 1
    • 2
  • E. Dias
    • 1
    • 2
  • J. C. Marques
    • 3
  • C. Antunes
    • 1
    • 4
  • I. Martins
    • 3
  1. 1.Interdisciplinary Centre of Marine and Environmental Research (CIIMAR/CIMAR)University of PortoPortoPortugal
  2. 2.ICBAS – Instituto de Ciências Biomédicas Abel SalazarUniversidade do PortoPortoPortugal
  3. 3.IMAR – CMA, Institute of Marine Research - Centre for Sea and Environment, Department of Life SciencesUniversity of CoimbraCoimbraPortugal
  4. 4.Aquamuseu of the Minho RiverVila Nova de CerveiraPortugal

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