Environmental forcing and larval fish assemblage dynamics in the Lima River estuary (northwest Portugal)

Sandra Ramos, Robert K. Cowen, Claire Paris, Pedro Ré, Adriano A. Bordalo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


This study investigated the potential control of selected abiotic parameters on an estuarine larval fish assemblage from the Lima River. Surveys were done fortnightly during spring tides, from April 2002 until April 2004, at 11 stations distributed along the estuary from the mouth to 7 km upstream. The surveys consisted of subsurface plankton tows of 5-min duration using a 1-m diameter, 500-μm mesh net and coupled with vertical profile measurements of temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, pH and turbidity. The Lima River estuary exhibited seasonal vertical stratification of salinity during the winter period, when salinity sharply increased with depth and a layer of fresh water was sometimes present at the surface. Temperature was always vertically stratified. Cooler water was typically found near the bottom of the water column, except during winter, when a thermal inversion occurred. A seasonal decrease in abundance and diversity of the larval assemblage was observed during winter, when fish larvae were almost absent from the plankton collections. Canonical correspondence analysis (CCA) results showed that the first axis represented a temporal gradient and the second axis represented a spatial gradient. Seasonal variations on temperature and precipitation were responsible for the temporal differences on the fish larval assemblages. This study reinforced the concept that interannual climate and hydrodynamic variations have a strong influence on estuarine ichthyoplankton and, consequently, on the recruitment of marine coastal fish populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)275-286
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Plankton Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology


Dive into the research topics of 'Environmental forcing and larval fish assemblage dynamics in the Lima River estuary (northwest Portugal)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this