Essential habitats for pre-recruit Octopus vulgaris along the Portuguese coast

A. Moreno*, S. Lourenco, J. Pereira, M. B. Gaspar, H. N. Cabral, G. J. Pierce, A. M. P. Santos

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


The exploitation of the common octopus Octopus vulgaris in Portugal increased 50% in the last 20 years, largely motivated by the depletion of many fish stocks. Recently, the biomass of this fishery resource sharply decreased in some areas causing serious concern among local fishermen and an effort is underway to advise on novel and sustainable management measures. In this context, the octopus pre-recruit aggregations along the Portuguese coast are identified using georeferenced fishery-independent data, from autumn and winter sampling between 1996 and 2008. The relationships between pre-recruit aggregations and several environmental variables are analyzed to characterize their essential habitats (EFH). Pre-recruits are distributed throughout the Portuguese coast aggregated in 8 distinct recruitment grounds located on the middle-shelf at 11-19 km from the coastline, which are characterized by average bottom depths of 65-110 m and are associated to major rivers and lagoon systems. Within each season pre-recruit abundance is much higher in the south region, while pre-recruit aggregations on the northwest coast showed high inter-annual and seasonal variation driven by environmental variability. The western zone adjacent to Ria Formosa lagoon (southern coast) was identified as the main recruitment ground for O. vulgaris along the Portuguese coast. This is supported by the higher abundance of pre-recruits and by the recurrence of their presence in this area over the years analyzed, both in autumn and winter. The effects of physical variables on pre-recruit abundance modelled with generalized additive models (GAM) showed important regional differences. Bottom salinity and river runoff are the environmental variables that have most impact on pre-recruit distribution and abundance on the west coast, regardless of any seasonal effects. On the other hand, temperature imposes distinct seasonal and regional limitations on pre-recruit distribution, both on the NW and S regions. Pre-recruit preferential habitat is characterized by bottom temperatures of 14 degrees C, salinity values around 36.0, low precipitation (average

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)74-85
Number of pages12
JournalFisheries Research
Early online date6 Sept 2013
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014
Event1st Triennial International Symposium of the Cephalopod-International-Advisory-Council (CIAC) - Florianopolis, Brazil
Duration: 29 Oct 20122 Nov 2012


  • Octopus vulgaris
  • Pre-recruits
  • Recruitment grounds
  • Habitat
  • EFH
  • Portugal
  • Common Octopus
  • Mediterranean Sea
  • 1797 cephalopoda
  • Soft-sediment
  • Balearic Sea
  • Cuvier
  • Growth
  • Fishery
  • Shelf
  • Paralarvae


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