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Feeding ecology of clupeoids larvae in upwelling ecosystems


Clupeoid fisheries in coastal upwelling areas account for more than 30 % of total world catch. In these highly productive systems, populations of clupeoids are the main trophic link between the plankton system and higher trophic levels. Population size of clupeoids in these areas has presented dramatic variability in the past, with important economic and social consequences. Pelagic fish recruitment variability has been shown to depend on survival of larval stages, and food availability has been proposed as a critical factor to the survival of early life stages.

Objective of the FECLUP (Feeding Ecology of Clupeoids Larvae in Upwelling ecosystems) project lies in studying the feeding ecology of cupleoids:
(1) to determine the potential impact of food limitation, taking into account different prey types and sizes and the increase in larval size during ontogenetic development;
(2) to relate the impact of food availability on recruitment, to other factors such as adult reproductive strategy, food web dynamics and larval transport during larval development.

The project will be focused on cupleoid fish in the Canary and Humboldt Currents upwelling systems. The methodological approach will be based on the coupling of laboratory or field experiments (analysis of gut contents, analysis of stable isotopes) and simulations of the recruitment process with an Individual Based Model coupled to a biogeochemical and a hydrodynamic model. The approach allows hierarchizing the principal processes relating food availability and larval behaviour under different scenarios, such as global change, or high fishing pressure. It has been set up during previous researches of the proposing research unit. The present project is proposed under a framework of an Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries.

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