The influence of the Atlantic and regional climate variability on the long-term changes in gelatinous carnivore populations in the northwestern Mediterranean

Molinero, Juan Carlos, Michele Casini, Emmanuelle Buecher

Limnol. Oceanogr., 53(4), 2008, 1456-1467 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2008.53.4.1456

ABSTRACT: We investigated potential connections between climate and the population size of gelatinous carnivores in the northwestern Mediterranean. The interannual variability of large- and meso-scale climate factors was related to gelatinous carnivore dynamics by means of a multivariate regression model. Gelatinous carnivore population dynamics integrate the climate-related changes in the northwestern Mediterranean with close correlations between climate and the population size of the Calycophoran siphonophores Chelophyes appendiculata and Abylopsis tetragona and the Hydromedusae Rhopalonema velatum and Solmundella bitentaculata. We show that the sensitivity of particular gelatinous carnivore species to environmental forcing relates to their seasonal appearance and peak of abundance. Our results advocate the occurrence of short time windows, during which gelatinous carnivores appear more sensitive to environmental conditions, and favorable conditions may therefore substantially enhance their annual peaks. Furthermore, there were threshold values from which climate effects on gelatinous carnivores become noticeable, indicating that the climate-gelatinous carnivore relationship intensifies according to the strength of climate forcing. The possibility of using the North Atlantic climate variability for assessing and predicting interannual abundance changes of these organisms in the northwestern Mediterranean is considered.

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