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Journal Articles Aquatic Living Resources Year : 2024

Identification of critical essential habitat for demersal fish in the Gulf of Guinea

Abstract

Habitats of three marine fish species of major interest ( Epinephelus aeneus , Pseudotolithus senegalensis , and Pagellus bellottii ) at both juvenile and adult life stages were identified and mapped in the western part of the Gulf of Guinea. Habitat suitability models (HSMs) were designed to quantify species- and stage-specific fish densities from scientific survey data collected for the last 40 years according to two environmental descriptors (bathymetry, distance to river mouth) and accounting for temporal contrasts. Delta general linear models were selected to fit with the 0-inflated distribution of the fish density data. Despite their high residual deviance, both the prediction accuracy and robustness of these HSMs were satisfactory. HSMs showed a strong influence of bathymetry on stage-specific fish distribution and a lower and non systematic influence of proximity to river mouths. The spatial distribution of juveniles of E. aeneus and P. senegalensis evidenced their concentration in shallow coastal nurseries. The adults of P. senegalensis were also located in nearshore habitats under estuarine influence, whereas adults of E. aeneus were spread towards deeper waters. P. bellottii did not rely on coastal fringes at juvenile or adult stages. Finally, model outputs showed a decrease in abundance in recent decades for all species at both life stages. These HSMs and maps reveal the importance of the coastal fringe as a critical essential habitat for two of the three studied species and the usefulness of space-based management measures to maintain populations and ensure sustainable fishing exploitation.
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hal-04604517 , version 1 (01-07-2024)

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Crespin Luc Quenum, Yeslem El Vally, Joanny Tapé, Jérôme Guitton, Ebenezer Francis Ekuban, et al.. Identification of critical essential habitat for demersal fish in the Gulf of Guinea. Aquatic Living Resources, 2024, 37 (7), 15 p. ⟨10.1051/alr/2024005⟩. ⟨hal-04604517⟩
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