With ocean warming predicted globally, one of the mechanisms driving distributional shifts and changes in the abundance of resident fishes is reproductive output. The relationship between sea surface temperature and the reproductive activity of a eurythermic, resident coastal species, blacktail seabream Diplodus sargus capensis, was examined in the “ocean warming” hotspot of the northern Benguela. Reproductive activity was found to be restricted to periods when the water temperature dropped below 20 °C. A metadata analysis conducted on the D. sargus sub-species complex similarly showed that reproductive activity was restricted to temperatures between 15 and 20 °C, regardless of the range in ambient water temperature. Based on these findings and using satellite derived SST information, we examined D. s. capensis’s total and seasonal “reproductive scope” that is defined as either the area suitable for spawning each year or the duration of its potential spawning season at a fixed geographical locality, respectively. Trends were examined over the last three decades. Reproductive scope by area was found to be shrinking at a rate of 7 % per decade in southern Angola and expanding at a rate of 6 % per decade in northern Namibia. Reproductive scope by season decreased by 1.05 months per decade in Namibe, southern Angola and increased by 0.76 months per decade in Hentiesbaai, northern Namibia. Changes in reproductive scope may be a driving mechanism of distributional shifts in resident fishes, although the rate of the shifts is likely to be slow. More importantly, changes in reproductive scope will not be uniform throughout fish distributions and will most likely result in heterogeneous variations in fish abundance.
Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 15, 2013
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