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European squid

Image: Miguel Cabanellas Reboredo ©

Species description and status: The European squid (Loligo vulgaris, Lamarck 1798) is a highly-mobile nektobenthic species which mainly inhabits the continental shelf bottoms (0-250 m depth, with the core of the population around 50-100 m depth1,2) of the Atlantic and Mediterranean waters: from the North Sea and British Isles to southwest Africa and the Mediterranean (Figure 1). L. vulgaris is one of the most exploited cephalopod in the European waters mainly captured by trawl fisheries3. Moreover, this cephalopod is targeted by small-scale fisheries, especially in Spain and Portugal4. Additionally, recreational fleet seasonally exploits the stock essentially during nearshore spawning aggregations5, harvesting a considerable fraction of the population6. Like most of the cephalopods, the fast-life history of this species is modulated by environmental cues7, with distinct horizontal and vertical migrations as they search for optimal environmental windows3 (as for example, to spawn8,9).

Figure 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 have provided broad information about the biology and ecology of this species1. However, European squid movement patterns are not fully understood. Landings by different fisheries, at different spatial-temporal scale provide certain information about the potential large-scale movement patterns (inshore-offshore migrations; e.g.,10). Over a 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 low-mobility during the day-time to high-mobility during night-time11. 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 a local scale (short-movement patterns) to understand spatial ecology of this species under different environments (e.g., Mediterranean vs. Atlantic). At a large-scale (migrations) to disentangle the 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), high mobility  (often moves out of local tracking networks in relatively little time11) and the soft tissue of this invertebrate (difficult to place and hold a tag in soft body) are primary limitations for tagging studies on this species. The family of small-size acoustic tags are presented as good options to address the spatial ecology of this species, at least over a short time (~1-2 months11). However, the ITAG (invertebrate tag) provides a new opportunity to address fine-scale behavioural movements of soft-bodied marine invertebrates12,13.

Benefits within 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 include LOLIGOTRACK, an 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 Sonotronics transmitters.

Contact: Dr. Miguel Cabanellas Reboredo

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

2Roper, 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.

3Pierce, 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.

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

5Cabanellas-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.

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

7Pierce, 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.

8Villanueva, 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.

9Cabanellas-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.

10Sánchez, 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.

11Cabanellas-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.

12Mooney, 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.

13Flaspohler, 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.