The study, published in the journal Science of the Total Environment, reveals that the displacement of populations of European sardines (Sardina pilchardus) will be driven by the increase in seawater temperatures and its interactions with salinity and ocean currents.
“In the last decade, the Iberian stocks of this species have been at low levels, but in the last two years they have shown signs of recovery. However, this species is particularly vulnerable to climate variability because they are organisms whose body temperature is regulated by water temperature and because they have high energy and metabolic requirements,” write the researchers in a statement about the study.
MARE-Ispa researcher and lead author of the study André Lima also adds that, "considering a scenario of high greenhouse gas emissions in our models", it is estimated that sardines "will expand their distribution by approximately 10% , colonizing the coast of Norway– as these regions will present environmental characteristics favourable to the species in 2100".
It was also possible, adds the researcher, “to identify that the northern Mediterranean, the Iberian Peninsula and the Canary Islands will become even more favorable environments, while much of the North African coast and the waters of Ireland and the United Kingdom will lose environmental requirements required by sardines”.
The coordinator of the SardiTemp project, financed by the Foundation for Science and Technology and by European Regional Development Funds, Gonçalo Silva underlines, in the same communiqué, that it is necessary “to interpret these results with due care, because despite an increase in expectations of the area of distribution of adults in about 10%, this study does not address aspects related to biomass, areas of reproduction and growth of juveniles, fishing, among other factors”.
For the researcher, understanding the effects of global warming "is fundamental for a sustainable management of stocks over time and for the definition of new fishing areas for this resource of great cultural and economic importance in the Iberian Peninsula".