Influence of Thermal Regimes on the Relationship between Parasitic Load and Body Condition in European Sardine along the Catalan Coast

The small pelagic European sardine presents high commercial and ecological values. Due to its cold-temperate water affinity, stocks are affected by global warming. Water temperature rise may change primary productivity patterns, negatively affecting fish condition and increasing parasite incidence. In this context, sardine health status was evaluated through the annual cycle on the Catalan Coast using thermal regimes comparison. Morphogravimetric parameters, sex and gonadal stages were assessed; infection by nematodes was characterised, and body condition was estimated by the Le Cren Factor and lipid content measured using a fish fat meter. Significant statistical differences were observed in spawning dynamics, body condition, and parasite infection between thermal regimes. Sardines from the colder north area had better condition and an earlier spawning, with lower parasite incidence (in terms of total prevalence, mean intensity and abundance) than those from the southern coast. Hysterothylacium spp. was the most abundant nematode, while Anisakis spp. prevalence was null in the two locations. Seasonal differences in nematode load were observed along the Catalan Coast, with lower prevalence during the summer and higher in winter-spring. Although previous studies have underestimated parasite influence on sardine health status, parasite abundance and sardine condition were negatively correlated. Seawater temperature and primary productivity are the proposed factors promoting differentiation in nematode infection and fish condition throughout the annual cycle and between locations ​
This document is licensed under a Creative Commons:Attribution (by) Creative Commons by4.0