Ecological Research

, Volume 22, Issue 4, pp 678–685

Environmental influences on the spatial distribution of European hake (Merluccius merluccius) and red mullet (Mullus barbatus) in the Mediterranean

  • Christos D. Maravelias
  • Efthymia V. Tsitsika
  • Costas Papaconstantinou
Original Article


Generalised additive models (GAMs) were used to test the hypotheses that red mullet (Mullus barbatus) and hake (Merluccius merluccius) abundances are related to the bathymetry, spatial location and the temperature-based variability of the NE Mediterranean. Data were collected during a 2-year period (1996–1997) of quasi-synoptic sampling using demersal trawl surveys in the northern Aegean Sea. The results of this study supported these hypotheses. It was found that geographic position and sea bottom characteristics influence the temporal distribution patterns of red mullet and hake. Data are presented that reveal species-specific aggregation patterns and an important habitat utilisation of the area. The modelled species’ abundances showed a strongly non-linear dependence on the explanatory covariates. This study, although not directly dealing with spawning, also provided evidence that red mullet and hake demonstrate environmental and bathymetric preferences in the months posterior to spawning. Mean red mullet abundance was consistently highest in areas with warmer bottom waters in the east and west than in the centre, these areas having shallower depths (35–60 m) and bottom temperatures around 19°C. The red mullet appeared to avoid the cold bottom waters (<16°C) of the deeper regions. Results indicated that areas with the highest hake abundances were located in waters of ∼160 m having bottom temperature of ∼16°C and avoided the shallower waters (<70 m) regardless of their bottom temperature. The present findings also suggested that colder bottom waters at all depths were associated with lower-than-average hake abundance. Red mullet and hake preferences for areas with specific bathymetric and ocean environmental conditions are believed to be linked to the oceanography of the NE Mediterranean ecosystem.


Aegean Demersal Depth GAM Oceanography 


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Copyright information

© The Ecological Society of Japan 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christos D. Maravelias
    • 1
  • Efthymia V. Tsitsika
    • 1
  • Costas Papaconstantinou
    • 1
  1. 1.Hellenic Centre for Marine Research, HCMRAnavissosGreece

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