European squid | European Tracking Network

European squid

Loligo vulgaris


Image: Miguel Cabanellas-Reboredo ©


Species description and status: The European squid (Loligo vulgaris, Lamarck, 1798) is a high-mobile nektobenthic species which mainly inhabits the continental shelf bottoms (0-250 m depth, concentrating the core of the population around 50-100 m depth[1,2]) of the Atlantic and Mediterranean waters: from North Sea and British Isles to southwest Africa and the Mediterranean (Fig. 1). L. vulgaris is one of the most exploited cephalopod in the European waters mainly captured by trawl fisheries[3]. Moreover, this cephalopod is targeted by small-scale fisheries, especially in Spain and Portugal[4]. Additionally, recreational fleet seasonally exploits the stock essentially during nearshore spawning aggregations[5], harvesting a considerable fraction of the population[6]. Like most of the cephalopods, the fast-life history of this species is extremely modulate by environmental cues[7] determining distinct horizontal and vertical migrations searching for optimal environmental windows[3] (as for example, to spawn[8,9]).

Fig 1. European squid distribution. Range colours indicate degree of habitat suitability which can be interpreted as probabilities of occurrence.


Knowledge gaps: Given its high socio-ecological importance, several studies provide an broad information about the biology and ecology of this species[1]. However, European squid movement patterns are not fully understood. Landings by different metiers at different spatial-temporal scale provide certain information about the potential large-scale movement patterns (inshore-offshore migrations; e.g.,[10]). At short-scale, Cabanellas-Reboredo et al. (2012) addressed movement patterns during L. vulgaris spawning aggregations at shallow waters, demonstrating a shift in squid behaviour from a low-mobility during the day-time versus high-mobility during night-time[11]. In all processes, the environment seems to play a key role in the spatial ecology of this species.

Regions of interest: Atlantic and Mediterranean continental shelf. At local scale (short-movement patterns) to understand spatial ecology of this species under different environments (e.g., Mediterranean vs. Atlantic). At large-scale (migrations) to disentangling potential connectivity between regions (e.g., via Gibraltar Strait, English Channel) and stocks.

Telemetry tools: The fast life cycle (tracking time is reduced to ~1 year), highly mobility of this species (gets out from local tracking networks in few time[11]) and the soft tissue of this invertebrate (difficult to place and hold a tag in its soft body) are presented as main handicaps to address tagging studies with this species. The family of small-size acoustic tags are presented as a good tools to address the spatial ecology of this species, at least at short time (~1-2 months[11]). However, the ITAG (invertebrate tag) open a new possibility window to address fine-scale behavioural movements of soft-bodied marine invertebrates[12,13].

Benefits within the ETN: Understand spatial ecology of one of the most important cephalopods in European waters providing essential information (life-history and population dynamics parameters like for example, connectivity between stocks; ETN Key knowledge gap 7) to achieve a sustainable management of this high valuable resource. Additionally, given the fast response to environmental conditions, European squid is presented as a key species to address big ecological questions closely related with climatic chance (ETN Key knowledge gap 5).

Previous projects on European squid: LOLIGOTRACK - Acoustic telemetry project focused on determine the movement patterns during spawning aggregations at shallow waters in Balearic Islands, Spain. Individuals of the species L. vulgaris were tagged using SonotronicsÓ transmitters.

Join the team and contact Dr. Miguel Cabanellas Reboredo ( from Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO) to be involved in this project/species and being involved in future project proposals to pan-European Calls to address these key knowledge gaps in the European squid.

[1]Guerra, Á. Mollusca, Cephalopoda. Fauna Ibérica, vol. 1; Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales, CSIC: Madrid, 1992.

[2]Roper, C.F.E.; Sweeney, M.J.; Nauen, C.E. FAO Species Catalogue. Vol. 3. Cephalopods of the world. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of species of interest to fisheries.; FAO Fisheries Synopsis: Rome, 1984.

[3]Pierce, G.J.; Allcock, L.; Bruno, I.; Jereb, P.; Lefkaditou, E.; Malham, S.; Moreno, A.; Pereira, J.; Piatkowski, U.; Rasero, M.; et al. Cephalopod biology and fisheries in Europe. ICES Coop. Res. Rep. 2010, 303, 175.

[4]Guerra, Á.; Sánchez, P.; Rocha, F. The Spanish fishery for Loligo: recent trends. Fish. Res. 1994, 21, 217–230.

[5]Cabanellas-Reboredo, M.; Alós, J.; March, D.; Palmer, M.; Jordà, G.; Palmer, M. Where and when will they go fishing? Understanding fishing site and time choice in a recreational squid fishery. ICES J. Mar. Sci. 2014, 71, 1760–1773.

[6]Cabanellas-Reboredo, M.; Palmer, M.; Alós, J.; Morales-Nin, B. Estimating harvest and its uncertainty in heterogeneous recreational fisheries. Fish. Res. 2017, 188, 100–111.

[7]Pierce, G.J.; Valavanis, V.D.; Guerra, A.; Jereb, P.; Orsi-Relini, L.; Bellido, J.M.; Katara, I.; Piatkowski, U.; Pereira, J.; Balguerias, E.; et al. A review of cephalopod–environment interactions in European Seas. Hydrobiologia 2008, 612, 49–70.

[8]Villanueva, R.; Arkhipkin, A.; Jereb, P.; Lefkaditou, E.; Lipinski, M.R.; Perales-Raya, C.; Riba, J.; F Rocha Embryonic life of the loliginid squid  Loligo vulgaris: comparison between statoliths  of Atlantic and Mediterranean populations . Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 2003, 253, 197–208.

[9]Cabanellas-Reboredo, M.; Calvo-Manazza, M.; Palmer, M.; Hernández-Urcera, J.; Garci, M.E.; González, Á.F.; Guerra, Á.; Morales-Nin, B. Using artificial devices for identifying spawning preferences of the European squid: Usefulness and limitations. Fish. Res. 2014, 157, 70–77.

[10]Sánchez, P.; Guerra, Á. Bathymetric distribution and aspects of the life history of Loligo vulgaris in the catalan sea (nw mediterranean). Iberus 1994, 12, 1–12.

[11]Cabanellas-Reboredo, M.; Alós, J.; Palmer, M.; March, D.; O’Dor, R. Movement patterns of the European squid Loligo vulgaris during the inshore spawning season. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 2012, 466, 133–144.

[12]Mooney, T.A.; Katija, K.; Shorter, K.A.; Hurst, T.; Fontes, J.; Afonso, P. ITAG: an eco-sensor for fine-scale behavioral measurements of soft-bodied marine invertebrates. Anim. Biotelemetry 2015, 3, 31.

[13]Flaspohler, G.E.; Caruso, F.; Mooney, T.A.; Katija, K.; Fontes, J.; Afonso, P.; Shorter, K.A. Quantifying the swimming gaits of veined squid (Loligo forbesi) using bio-logging tags. J. Exp. Biol. 2019, jeb.198226.