The influence of oceanographic features and moon phases on ichthyoplankton assemblages in a temperate nearshore rocky reef off El Quisco Bay, central Chile, was assessed during austral spring–summer 2015–2016 using Bongo nets. Wind direction was predominantly south-west, and ocean temperature increased gradually during the study period, fluctuating between 11.6°C and 17.7°C. A relatively cold period (from late September to early December, 12.42 ± 0.64°C) was distinguished from a relatively warmer phase (from mid-December to February, 13.56 ± 1.08°C). Nearshore ichthyoplankton was composed of 13,700 individuals, belonging to 43 taxa. Larval Strangomera bentincki (Clupeidae) were collected in high numbers between late September and late October with peaks during full moon and first quarter (maximum = 734 ind. 100 m−3); larval Engraulis ringens (Engraulidae) was most abundant between late October and late December 2015, with peaks during the third quarter and full moon. Principal Component Analysis of ichthyoplankton data explained more than 44% of total variance and showed the influence of cold/warm periods in the structuring of larval fish assemblages. Water temperature had more influence than lunar phase in the structure and composition of nearshore fish larvae off central Chile. We conclude that larval fish assemblages found in nearshore waters change on a seasonal scale by differences in the reproductive activity among species, and that lunar phase exerts a low, but significant effect on the abundance of fish larvae, but this variability is species-specific.
- Lunar cycle
- fish larvae