, 612:171 | Cite as

Identifying essential fish habitat for small pelagic species in Spanish Mediterranean waters

  • Jose M. Bellido
  • Alex M. Brown
  • Vasilis D. Valavanis
  • Ana Giráldez
  • Graham J. Pierce
  • Magdalena Iglesias
  • Andreas Palialexis


Populations of small pelagic fish support important fisheries in Spanish Mediterranean waters, particularly sardine (Sardina pilchardus) and anchovy (Engraulis encrasicolus), and are distributed along the entire length of the Spanish continental shelf. Using annual acoustic survey data for the years 2003–2005, a GIS-based environmental modelling approach was used to investigate the distribution and abundance of small pelagic fish in relation to environmental variables. Multivariate analysis was applied to provide a preliminary picture of relationships between fish and environmental conditions, followed by application of Generalised Additive Models (GAMs). GAMs showed the presence/absence of fish to be related to bathymetry, sea surface chlorophyll-a concentration and sea surface temperature (SST). The strength and significance of these relationships varied spatially and temporally. High resolution Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) maps were generated for sardine and anchovy, based on the predicted probability of presence of each species. Substantial inter-annual variability in the distribution and quality of EFH was observed, particularly for anchovy. Identification of EFH is of great importance to assess and manage sardine and anchovy resources as it provides a natural link between population dynamics features and geographical scenarios.


Anchovy Sardine Essential fish habitat Environment Mediterranean 



The authors are obliged to the ECOMED scientific and technical crew of the R/V Cornide de Saavedra. Thanks are also due to Colin MacLeod and Manuel Vargas for technical contributions and comments. Alex Brown was funded by a studentship from the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). Andreas Palialexis was funded by the FP6 EnviEFH Project (No 022466). GJP would also like to acknowledge support from the ANIMATE project (MEXC-CT-2006-042337).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jose M. Bellido
    • 1
  • Alex M. Brown
    • 2
  • Vasilis D. Valavanis
    • 3
  • Ana Giráldez
    • 4
  • Graham J. Pierce
    • 2
    • 5
  • Magdalena Iglesias
    • 6
  • Andreas Palialexis
    • 3
  1. 1.Centro Oceanográfico de MurciaInstituto Español de OceanografíaSan Pedro del PinatarSpain
  2. 2.School of Biological Sciences (Zoology)University of AberdeenAberdeenUK
  3. 3.Marine GIS Laboratory, Institute of Marine Biological ResourcesHellenic Centre for Marine ResearchHeraklionGreece
  4. 4.Centro Oceanográfico de MálagaInstituto Español de OceanografíaFuengirolaSpain
  5. 5.Centro Oceanográfico de VigoInstituto Español de OceanografíaVigoSpain
  6. 6.Centro Oceanográfico de BalearesInstituto Español de OceanografíaPalma de MallorcaSpain

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