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Biologist Pablo Cermeo Villanueva defended his PhD thesis at the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU), providing a tool to determine the age of anchovies with greater accuracy on a monthly or even weekly basis, thus enabling studies of the earliest phases of life to be undertaken.
The European anchovy (Engraulis encrasicolus, Linneaus 1875) is a coastal pelagic species of great importance. Not only does it support an important fishing industry, but it is also fundamental in marine growth chains. The characteristics of this small fish are: a short life cycle, seasonal migrations, high growth rates, first reproduction at an early stage, a long egg-laying period and schooling behaviour (shoal or group). All this gives rise to considerable inter-annual fluctuations given the variability of stock replacement by juvenile fish, these being highly vulnerable to environmental conditions.
European anchovy catches have dropped alarmingly over the last few decades, going from 83,615 tons in 1965 to 4,456 tons in 1982 and only 950 tons in 2005.
This is what Pablo Cermeo Villanueva focuses on in his PhD, undertaken at the Faculty of Science and Technology of the UPV/EHU, research work that provides a tool to determine the age of anchovies with greater accuracy on a monthly or even weekly basis, as opposed to merely annually, and enabling studies to be undertaken of the earliest phases of life, which are those that most bear on survival and, thereby, recruitment.
The PhD, entitled Analysis of the microstructure of the otoliths for growing and recruitment. Application to the European anchovy (Engraulis encrasicolus) in the Bay of Biscay was led by Doctor Beatriz Morales-Nin of the Institute for Advanced Studies of the Mediterranean (IMEDEA) and developed by the AZTI-Tecnalia Foundation
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