The spatio-temporal pattern of Argentine shortfin squid Illex argentinus abundance in the southwest Atlantic

M. Sacau, Graham John Pierce, Jianjun Wang, A. I. Arkhipkin, J. Portela, P. Brickle, Maria Begona Santos Vazquez, X. Cardoso

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43 Citations (Scopus)


The Argentine shortfin squid (Illex argentinus) is a common neritic species occurring in waters off Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, and the Falkland/Malvinas Islands in the Southwest Atlantic. Illex argentinus is the most important fished cephalopod species in the area and plays a significant role in the ecosystem. It is object of major fisheries using both trawlers (mostly from European countries) and jigging vessels (mainly from Asian countries) and estimated total annual average catch for the last 15 years (1988-2003) is about 700 000 tons. The present paper aims to develop predictive models of squid abundance in relation to physical and environmental conditions. models that could ultimately be applied to fishery forecasting. Fishery and biological data collected by scientific observers aboard commercial trawlers between 1988 and 2003 were analysed in relation to physical and environmental factors to establish the spatio-temporal pattern of the species' distribution and quantify the influence of environmental variables (e.g. SST depth) on local abundance. The data included 26 168 fishing haul records, of which 11 103 were positive for Illex. CPUE (Catch Per Unit Effort, kg h-(1)) was used as abundance index. The analyses were based on time-series maps created using Geographical Information Systems (GIS). GIS maps showed that highest CPUE values were recorded during the first four months of the year (the Austral summer-autumn), with peak values higher than 5000 kg h(-1) mainly located within 42 degrees S, 46 degrees S and MN (North part of Malvinas/Falkland) areas. Generalised additive models (GAMs) were used to describe variation in Illex argentinus abundance in relation to geographical and environmental variables. The presence/absence (PA) of Illex and its abundance (CPUE) in areas of presence were modelled separately. Predictors retained in the optimal models included SST, latitude, longitude, month, average fishing depth and year. Both models suggest a clear seasonal effect: maximum catchability was found during March (PA model) and the maximum abundances were found during the first quarter of the year (CPUE model). GAM models also demonstrated that higher catches and maturity of squid were related, in general terms, to warmer and deeper water.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)361-372
Number of pages11
JournalAquatic Living Resources
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • Argentine shortfin squid
  • Illex argentinus
  • GIS
  • GAM
  • environment
  • spatio-temporal pattern


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