Elsevier, Journal of Marine Systems, (135), p. 97-116
The spatio-temporal dynamics of a simulated Centropages typicus (Kröyer) population during the year 2001 at the regional scale of the northwestern Mediterranean Sea are addressed using a 3D coupled physical-biogeochemical model. The setup of the coupled biological model comprises a pelagic plankton ecosystem model and a stage-structured population model forced by the 3D velocity and temperature fields provided by an eddy-resolving regional circulation model. The population model for Centropages typicus (C. t. below) represents demographic processes through five groups of developmental stages, which depend on underlying individual growth and development processes and are forced by both biotic (prey and predator fields) and abiotic (temperature, advection) factors from the coupled physical-biogeochemical model. The objective is to characterize C. t. ontogenic habitats driven by physical and trophic processes. The annual dynamics are presented for two of the main oceanographic stations in the Gulf of Lions, which are representative of shelf and open sea conditions, while the spatial distributions over the whole area are presented for three dates during the year, in early and late spring and in winter. The simulated spatial patterns of C. t. developmental stages are closely related to mesoscale hydrodynamic features and circulation patterns. The seasonal and spatial distributions on the Gulf of Lions shelf depend on the seasonal interplay between the Rhône river plume, the mesoscale eddies on the shelf and the Northern Current acting as either as a dynamic barrier between the shelf and the open sea or allowing cross-shelf exchanges. In the central gyre of the northwestern Mediterranean Sea, the patchiness of plankton is tightly linked to mesoscale frontal systems, surface eddies and filaments and deep gradients. Due to its flexibility in terms of its diet, C. t. succeeds in maintaining its population in both coastal and offshore areas year round. The simulations suggest that the winter - spring food conditions are more favorable on the shelf for C. t., whereas in late summer and fall, the offshore depth-integrated food biomasses represent a larger resource for C. t., particularly when mesoscale structures and vertical discontinuities increase food patchiness. The development and reproduction of C. t. depend on the prey field within the mesoscale structures that induce a contrasting spatial distribution of successive developmental stages on a given observation date. In late fall and winter, the results of the model suggest the existence of three refuge areas where the population maintains winter generations near the coast and within the Rhone River plume, or offshore within canyons within the shelf break, or in the frontal system related to the Northern Current. The simulated spatial and temporal distributions as well as the life cycle and physiological features of C. t. are discussed in light of recent reviews on the dynamics of C. t. in the northwestern Mediterranean Sea.