Cycles, trends, and residual variation in the Iberian sardine (Sardina pilchardus) recruitment series and their relationship with the environment

M. Begona Santos*, Rafael Gonzalez-Quiros, Isabel Riveiro, Jose M. Cabanas, Carmela Porteiro, Graham J. Pierce

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


Recruitment variability is an important component of the dynamics of Iberian sardine (Sardine pilchardus). Since 2006, poor recruitment has led to a decrease in stock biomass, the latest in a series of such crises for sardine fisheries. Understanding the mechanisms behind recruitment fluctuations has been the objective of many previous studies, and various relationships between recruitment and environmental variables have been proposed. However, such studies face several analytical challenges, including short time- series and autocorrelated data. A new analysis of empirical relationships with environmental series is presented, using statistical methods designed to cope with these issues, including dynamic factor analysis, generalized additive models, and mixed models. Relationships are identified between recruitment and global (number of sunspots), regional (NAOAutumn), and local [ winter wind strength, sea surface temperature (SST), and upwelling] environmental variables. Separating these series into trend and noise components permitted further investigation of the nature of the relationships. Whereas the other three environmental variables were related to the trend in recruitment, SST was related to residual variation around the trend, providing stronger evidence for a causal link, possible mechanisms for which are discussed. After the removal of trend and cyclic components, residual variation in recruitment is also weakly related to the previous year's spawning- stock biomass.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)739-750
Number of pages12
JournalICES Journal of Marine Science
Issue number5
Early online date13 Dec 2011
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2012


  • environmental drivers
  • Iberia
  • recruitment
  • sardine
  • time-series
  • Eastern North-Atlantic
  • Central Cantabrian Sea
  • Western Iberia
  • Pelagic fish
  • Portugal
  • Ecosystem
  • Climate
  • Biscay
  • Larvae
  • Winter


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