The seasonal evolution of vertical distribution of fish larvae and its relationship with seasonal stratification, as measured by a quantitative stability parameter, were analyzed for a region off Bahía de La Paz in the southwestern Gulf of California. Samples were obtained with an opening-closing net (505 μm) in 50-m depth strata from surface to 200-m depth in May, July, and October 2001 and February 2002. Significant differences in total larval abundance and in dominant species (mesopelagic and epipelagic) were found among strata from May to October. More larvae were found in maximum-stability strata (from 16 ±5 to 48 ±17 m depth) than below the pycnocline (from 100- to 150-m depth). In February, the 100-m-deep surface mixed layer had a weak pycnocline at its base, and no significant difference was found. Results show that vertical distribution of fish larvae in this area depends mainly on the seasonal evolution of the water column structure, with most fish larvae in the pycnocline, at the most stable stratum of the water column.
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Vol. 61 • No. 4