What are the differences between Trachinotus and Bramidae species?

What are the differences between Trachinotus and Bramidae species?

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What are the differences between Trachinotus(Pompanos) and Bramidae(Pomfrets) ?

… like the difference between where they live/can be found, bone structure, etc.

Pomfrets comes from the order Perciformes (the largest order of fishes) and are part of the Bramidae family. They strictly live in marine environments, mainly the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans. They have a dorsal fin extending over the length of the body in some and anterior dorsal fin spines unbranched.

Pompano comes also comes from the order Perciforme and are part of the Carangdide family which includes jacks, mackerels, scads, and runners. Most are fast-swimming predatory fish that hunt in the waters above reefs and in the open ocean. They also mainly live in marine environments such as the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans, and are rarely found in brackish waters. Their body is generally compressed, although body shape extremely variable from very deep to fusiform.

Quote about Pompanos from

Most species with only small cycloid scales. Scales along lateral line often modified into spiny scutes. Detached finlets, as many as nine, sometimes found behind dorsal and anal fins. Large juveniles and adults with 2 dorsal fins. Anterior dorsal fin with 3-9 spines; the second having 1 spine and usually 18-37 soft rays. Anal spines usually 3, the first 2 separate from the rest; soft rays usually 15-31. Widely forked caudal fin. Caudal peduncle slender. Pelvic fins lacking in Parona signata. Vertebrae 24-27 (modally 24).

Unfortunately, I can only post one link due to my rep, but it fairly easy to search for information on both species.

Individual assignment test reveals differential restriction to dispersal between two salmonids despite no increase of genetic differences with distance

V. Castric, Laboratoire Génétique et Evolution des Populations Végétales, Bâtiment SN2, Cité Scientifique, Université des Sciences et Technologies de Lille, 59 655 Villeneuve d’Ascq Cedex, France. Fax: + 33 (0) 3 20 43 69 79 E-mail: [email protected] Search for more papers by this author

Québec-Océan, Département de biologie, Pavillon Marchand, Université Laval, Québec, Qc. G1K 7P4, Canada,

Québec-Océan, Département de biologie, Pavillon Marchand, Université Laval, Québec, Qc. G1K 7P4, Canada,

Laboratoire Génétique et Evolution des Populations Végétales, Bâtiment SN2, Cité Scientifique, Université des Sciences et Technologies de Lille, 59 655 Villeneuve d’Ascq cedex, France

V. Castric, Laboratoire Génétique et Evolution des Populations Végétales, Bâtiment SN2, Cité Scientifique, Université des Sciences et Technologies de Lille, 59 655 Villeneuve d’Ascq Cedex, France. Fax: + 33 (0) 3 20 43 69 79 E-mail: [email protected] Search for more papers by this author

Québec-Océan, Département de biologie, Pavillon Marchand, Université Laval, Québec, Qc. G1K 7P4, Canada,


In many species genes move over limited distances, such that genetic differences among populations or individuals are expected to increase as a function of geographical distance. In other species, however, genes may move any distance over a single generation time, such that no increase of genetic differences is expected to occur with distance. Patterns of gene dispersal have been assessed typically using this theoretical property. In this study, this classical approach based on a Mantel test was compared to a new method using individual assignment to reveal contrasts in dispersal patterns between 15 populations of brook charr Salvelinus fontinalis and 10 populations of Atlantic salmon Salmo salar sampled in eastern Canada, where both species co-occur naturally. Based on the Mantel test, we found evidence for neither an increase of genetic differences with distance in either species nor a significant contrast between them. The individual-based method, in contrast, revealed that individual assignment in both species was non random, being significantly biased toward geographically proximate locations. Furthermore, brook charr were on average assigned to a closer river than were salmon, according to a priori expectations based on the dispersal behaviour of the two species. We thus propose that individual assignment methods might be a promising and more powerful alternative to Mantel tests when isolation by distance cannot be postulated a priori.

Reproductive traits of the pompano, Trachinotus ovatus (Linnaeus, 1758), in the north-western Mediterranean

This study describes for the first time the reproductive traits of the warm-water pompano, Trachinotus ovatus . Specimens were sampled from landings by artisanal fishing vessels in the NW Mediterranean. Monthly collections, from July 2010 through to September 2012, yielded 226 individuals (118 females and 108 males). The size at 50% maturity (L 50 ) was estimated at 30.9 and 29.1 cm TL for females and males, respectively. Specific reproductive traits, such as oocyte size-frequency distributions, presence of recent post-ovulatory follicles along with oocytes in the final phases of gonadal development, and massive atresia in post-spawning individuals, indicated that pompanos are multiple batch spawners with asynchronous oocyte development and indeterminate fecundity. Monthly variations in the gonadosomatic index and in the phases of gonadal development indicated July and August as the spawning season. There were also noticeable inter-annual variations in spawning phenology, mean diameters of the oocytes, relative batch fecundity and eggs quality, all of which corresponded to changes in sea surface temperatures. This study enhances our understanding of the need for research into the reproduction of warm-water species, which are currently expanding into the increasingly warmer waters of the world's more northerly seas and oceans.

Gonadal transcriptomic analysis and differentially expressed genes between the testes and ovaries in Trachinotus ovatus

The Trachinotus ovatus is a popular aquaculture species in China. There are no obvious morphological differences between male and female fish, even during maturity, prompting research studies on sex-related features of this fish. To examine sex determination- and gonadal development-related genes, we conducted transcriptome analysis of the ovaries and testes of T. ovatus. A total of 345,972,132 high-quality clean reads were obtained from 12 libraries. In addition, 28,137 gonad-expressed unigenes were obtained by mapping the clean reads to the T. ovatus reference genome. A total of 8,237 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were identified between stage I ovaries and testes, including 3,235 testicular upregulated and 5,002 ovarian upregulated genes. Furthermore, 13,448 DEGs were obtained between stage III ovarian and testicular libraries, including 7,576 testicular upregulated and 5,872 ovarian upregulated genes. The DEGs included some sex-determining genes such as sry, dmrt1, and amh. DEGs between ovarian and testicular libraries were significantly enriched with KEGG pathways that are involved in gonadal development, sex determination, and gonadal function. Then, 10 DEGs (seven testicular upregulated and three ovarian upregulated unigenes) were selected for quantitative real-time PCR analysis. Four genes (zinc-binding protein A33-like, pro-opiomelanocortin-like, leucine-rich repeat and transmembrane domain-containing protein 2-like, and forkhead boxC1) showed a specific testicular expression pattern. The gonadally expressed as well as testicular and ovarian DEGs provide useful information for further research on the reproductive biology of T. ovatus.


The pomfrets of the family Bramidae are a group of temperate to tropical epipelagic fishes, typically found in the open ocean at depths from the surface to 1246 m (Mead 1972 Carvalho-Filho and others 2009). Although at least 1 species, Brama brama, is targeted in commercial fisheries (Gonzalez-Lorenzo and others 2013) and the species are widespread and often abundant in the oceans of the world, they are uncommonly collected. In the eastern North Pacific, 6 species of pomfrets are recorded: Brama japonica, B. dussumieri, B. orcini, Pteraclis aesticola, Taractes asper, and T. steindachneri (Moser and Mundy 1996 Love and others 2005). Of these, only B. japonica and T. asper are known to range north of California (Love and others 2005).

The genus Pterycombus comprises 2 recognized species: P. petersii (Hilgendorf 1878) and P. brama Fries 1837 (Mead 1972). Pterycombus petersii, known commonly as the Prickly Pomfret or Prickly Fanfish, is primarily an Indo-Pacific species (Mead 1972) reported from the central (Seki and Mundy 1991, Mundy 2005) and western Pacific Ocean, including Japan, the Sea of Japan (Shinohara and others 2011, 2014), and Korea (Park and others 2007), New Zealand (Stewart and others 2015), the Indian Ocean, and the south Atlantic Ocean off South Africa (Smith 1986) and Brazil (Carvalho-Filho and others 2009). Pterycombus brama is known only from the Atlantic Ocean from Canada to Norway in the north to Brazil and the Gulf of Guinea in the south (Mead 1972). The 2 species may be found together off southern South America (Carvalho-Filho and others 2009). Herein we report on a single specimen of Pterycombus petersii that constitutes the 1st record of the species in the eastern North Pacific.

Counts, measurements, and terminology follow Mead (1972), except for counts of dorsal-and anal-fin rays in which all rays are counted, including both on the last pterygiophore. The specimen was frozen at sea, fixed in 10% formalin, transferred to 70% ethanol, and deposited in the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, University of Washington Fish Collection (UW).

Pterycombus petersii (Hilgendorf 1878) (Fig. 1)

Material examined.--UW 156810, 285.3 mm standard length (SL), off Oregon, 44.938[degrees]N, 124.935[degrees]W, 384 m (210 fm) gear depth over 494 m (270 fm) bottom depth, pelagic trawl, 4 November 2016, F/V Island Enterprise, NMFS Observer Jeannine Memoly.

The specimen is readily identified as a species of Pterycombus based on several characters (Mead 1972). The very elongate dorsal and anal fin rays are all of the same thickness and are depressible into grooves formed by enlarged scales at the base of the fins. The dorsal-fin origin is preceded by scales that cross the dorsal midline and is positioned over the posterior part of the head rather than being well forward, as in other veil-fin bramids such as Pteraclis.

Pterycombus petersii is distinguished from P. brama by having fewer vertebrae (45 to 48 vs. 48 to 51 in P. brama) and dorsal-fin rays (48 to 49 vs. 48 to 53 in P. brama) (Mead 1972). Although meristic characters overlap, P. brama is restricted to the Atlantic Ocean, unlike P. petersii, which is found in the Indo-Pacific and extreme southern Atlantic Ocean. Significant counts and characters of the Oregon specimen (UW 156810) include the following: vertebrae 45 dorsal-fin rays 49 analfin rays 41 pectoral-fin rays 20, 19 scales in lateral series 48 total gill rakers 8 (1 +1 + 6) plus 4 anterior rounded hump-like rudiments. Additional morphological data are listed in Table 1. Upon capture, the body was overall slate gray, more darkly pigmented on the nape and along the dorsum with faint streaks extending to the lateral line (Fig. 1). Dorsal, anal, and pelvic fins were entirely black. The caudal fin was dark distally and lighter proximally to the caudal base. The pectoral fins were unpigmented. After preservation, lighter areas were pale yellow-brown.

Most of the material examined by Mead (1972) consisted of small juveniles at the time, only a few adults of 100 to 275 mm SL were known from collections. Although Smith (1986) reported a maximum size of 310 mm body length, our specimen at 285 mm SL (375 mm total length) represents 1 of the largest specimens documented. Our measurements and counts are generally congruent with data published for other adult specimens (Table 1). Differences between the 3 specimens here may be ontogenetic, as nearly all measurements, with the exception of dorsal- and anal-fin ray lengths, are proportionally larger in our specimen, especially compared with the small specimen from South Africa. Measurements of the eastern North Pacific specimen are most similar to the large specimen from the Sea of Japan.

Acknowledgments.--We thank J Memoly for collecting the specimen, K Maslenikov and L Tornabene for collections support, and D Stevenson and K Maslenikov for their critical reviews of the manuscript.

CARVALHO-FLIHO A, MARCOVALDI G, SAMPAIO CLS, PAIVA MIG, DUARTE LAG. 2009. First report of rare pomfrets (Teleostei: Bramidae) from Brazilian waters, with a key to western Atlantic species. Zootaxa 2290:1-26.

GONZALEZ-LORENZO G, GONZALEZ-JIMENEZ JF, BRITO A, GONZALEZ JA. 2013. The family Bramidae (Perciformes) from the Canary Islands (northeastern Atlantic Ocean), with three new records. Cybium 37:295-303.

HILGENDORF FM. 1878. Uber das Vorkommen einer Brama-Art und einer neuen Fischgattung Centropholis aus der Nachbarschaft des Genus Brama in den japanischen Meeren. Sitzungsberichte der Gesellschaft Naturforschender Freunde zu Berlin 1878:1-2.

LOVE MS, MECKLENBURG CW, MECKLENBURG TA, THOR-STEINSON LK. 2005. Resource inventory of marine and estuarine fishes of the West Coast and Alaska: A checklist of North Pacific and Arctic Ocean species from Baja California to the Alaska-Yukon border. Ocean Energy Management Study MMS 2005-030 and USGS/NBII 2005-001. Seattle, WA: US Geological Survey, Biological Resources Division. 288 p.

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MUNDY BC. 2005. Checklist of the fishes of the Hawaiian Archipelago. Bishop Museum Bulletin in Zoology 6:1-704.

PARK J-H, KIM JK, MOON JH, KIM CB. 2007. Three unrecorded marine fish species from Korean waters. Ocean Science Journal 42:231-240.

SEKI MP, MUNDY BC. 1991. Some notes on the early life stages of the Pacific Pomfret, Brama japonica, and other Bramidae from the central North Pacific Ocean. Japanese Journal of Ichthyology 38:63-68.

SHINOHARA G, NAKAE M, UEDA Y, KOJIMA S, MATSUURA K. 2014. Annotated checklist of deep-sea fishes of the Sea of Japan. In: Fujita T, editor. Deep-sea fauna of the Sea of Japan. National Museum of Nature and Science Monographs 44:225-291.

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Comprehensive assessment of the genetic diversity and population structure of cultured populations of golden pompano, Trachinotus ovatus (Linnaeus, 1758), by microsatellites

Golden pompano, Trachinotus ovatus, belongs to the family Carangidae. Within one decade, this species has rapidly become one of the most important cultured marine fish species in South China. However, the lack of a comprehensive genetic diversity assessment hinders the conservation of natural resources and management of cultured populations. Thus, we sampled one wild population and six cultured populations of golden pompano, which represented the whole cultured population, to assess the genetic diversity and population structure. The level of genetic diversity was low compared with those of other cultured fish, as the values of allelic richness, number of effective alleles and expected heterozygosity in the combined whole sample were 3.709, 2.592, and 0.591, respectively. These populations were little differentiated (Fst = 0.02091, p value = 0.00), and the whole sample did not show an explicit population structure at the individual level. The effective population size in each cultured population was small and in the whole sample was acceptable for a closed selection system. The pedigree reconstruction showed no evidence of artificial disturbance in mating. This general survey of cultured golden pompano populations showed the common characteristics of domestication with wild inputs. However, the low level of and potential decrease in genetic diversity should receive close attention in future breeding programs. In addition, we recommend wide surveys of natural resources and the establishment of closed breeding systems to increase genetic gain.

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The Plata pompano, Trachinotus marginatus (Cuvier, 1832), is an endemic carangid of the Southwestern Atlantic Ocean, occurring from Rio de Janeiro to Uruguay. This study describes the reproductive period, spawning type, the size at first gonadal maturation and the length-weight relationship of individuals sampled from landings of the artisanal and commercial fishing fleets in Rio Grande that operate along the coast of Rio Grande do Sul state, southern Brazil (

32ºS) to the Uruguayan border (

34ºS). Monthly collections from September 2008 through January 2010 yielded 274 individuals ranging from 142 to 444 mm in total length (TL). The gonadal development stages were defined according to the histological examination of the ovaries and the testes. The relationship between TL (mm) and total weight TW (g) was statistically different between males (TW = 0.000463*TL2.7655) and females (TW = 0.000361*TL2.8131), showing negative allometric growth for both sexes. The sizes at first maturity were 187.2 mm and 254.9 mm for females and males, respectively. The presence of two modal groups of oocyte diameters suggested that total spawning occurred. The interpretation of the monthly variations of the condition factor and gonadosomatic index, which are associated with higher frequencies of the more advanced stages of gonadal development, identified the spring and summer months as the reproductive period, with a peak in the reproductive activity during November and January. These results suggested that the species has an opportunistic reproductive strategy.

Reproductive period sexual maturation spawning weight-length relationship

The reproductive biology of the plata pompano, Trachinotus marginatus(Teleostei: Carangidae), in southern Brazil

Valéria M. Lemos I, 1 1 Corresponding author. E-mail: [email protected] Antônio S. Varela Junior II Gonzalo Velasco I João P. Vieira I

I Instituto de Oceanografia, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande. Avenida Itália km 8, Carreiros, 96201-900 Rio Grande, RS, Brazil

II Laboratório de Histologia, Instituto Ciências Biológicas, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande. Avenida Itália, km 8, Campus Carreiro, 96203-000 Rio Grande, RS, Brazil

The Plata pompano, Trachinotus marginatus (Cuvier, 1832), is an endemic carangid of the Southwestern Atlantic Ocean, occurring from Rio de Janeiro to Uruguay. This study describes the reproductive period, spawning type, the size at first gonadal maturation and the length-weight relationship of individuals sampled from landings of the artisanal and commercial fishing fleets in Rio Grande that operate along the coast of Rio Grande do Sul state, southern Brazil (

32ºS) to the Uruguayan border (

34ºS). Monthly collections from September 2008 through January 2010 yielded 274 individuals ranging from 142 to 444 mm in total length (TL). The gonadal development stages were defined according to the histological examination of the ovaries and the testes. The relationship between TL (mm) and total weight TW (g) was statistically different between males (TW = 0.000463*TL 2.7655 ) and females (TW = 0.000361*TL 2.8131 ), showing negative allometric growth for both sexes. The sizes at first maturity were 187.2 mm and 254.9 mm for females and males, respectively. The presence of two modal groups of oocyte diameters suggested that total spawning occurred. The interpretation of the monthly variations of the condition factor and gonadosomatic index, which are associated with higher frequencies of the more advanced stages of gonadal development, identified the spring and summer months as the reproductive period, with a peak in the reproductive activity during November and January. These results suggested that the species has an opportunistic reproductive strategy.

Key words: Reproductive period sexual maturation spawning weight-length relationship.

Trachinotus marginatus (Cuvier, 1832) is an endemic carangid of the Southwestern Atlantic Ocean, occurring from Rio de Janeiro to the coast of Uruguay (MENEZES & FIGUEIREDO 1980, RETTA et al. 2006). The juveniles of this species are widely distributed in the surf zone of sandy beaches whereas the adults are found in deeper waters (RAMOS & VIEIRA 2001, GODEFROID et al. 2003, MONTEIRO-NETO et al. 2003, VASCONCELLOS et al. 2007, LIMA & VIEIRA 2009).

Previous studies of T. marginatus in Rio Grande do Sul described its natural feeding habits (MONTEIRO-NETO & CUNHA 1990), behavioral responses in captivity and survival rates in relation to salinity and oxygen consumption (TESSER et al. 1998, SAMPAIO et al. 2003). Moreover, MARTINS & BIANCHINI (2008) used the species as a model in toxicity tests. Although the above-mentioned works furnish important information about the biology of T. marginatus, no published studies address its reproduction.

The knowledge of the reproductive biology of fishes is essential for the effective management of fish populations as fishery resources. Biological parameters, such as the size at first maturity, oocyte diameter and gonadosomatic index variation, may indicate the breeding season, sexual maturation and spawning (HEINS et al. 2004). In addition, length-weight relationships may be used to estimate biomass from length-frequency data and may serve as a measure of the expected weight variation at a given length, thus, indicating the individual's condition, fat accumulation and gonadal development (ROSSI-WONGTSCHOWSKI 1977).

This report provides new information on the mean size at first maturity (L50), reproductive period, spawning type, and weight-length relationship for T. marginatus to address the lack of knowledge of its reproductive biology and to impart essential information to guide management actions and conservation for the species.

The specimens were collected monthly from November 2008 through January 2010 from landings of the artisanal and commercial fishing fleets in Rio Grande that operate along the coast of Rio Grande do Sul state, southern Brazil, from Rio Grande city (

32ºS) to the Uruguayan border (

34ºS). We examined a total of 274 individuals of T. marginatus. The specimens were kept on ice prior to the same-day data collection in the laboratory. The total length (TL – from the tip of the snout to the end of the caudal fin in the normal position) in mm was measured with an ichthyometer, and the total weight (TW), gonad weight (GW), and body weight (BW = TW – GW) in grams (g) were measured using an electronic scale (0.01-g precision). The gonads were extracted and fixed in a 10% buffered formalin solution (for approximately seven days) and then kept in 70% ethanol. Gonad fragments from all of the specimens collected were analyzed using a routine histological procedure that consisted of dehydration through an ascending ethanol series, diaphanization with xylol, inclusion in Paraplast Xtra at 58ºC, microtomy to produce 5- to 7-µm sections, and staining with hematoxylin-eosin (HE) (BEÇAK & PAULETE 1976).

All of the histological sections were photographed on a microscope (BX-51) with a coupled digital camera (DP-72 Olympus). For each ovary, approximately 20 randomly selected oocytes were measured using ImageJ software (BURGER & BURGE 2007) to determine the oocyte diameters at different developmental stages. The oocyte developmental pattern was determined in terms of the distribution of the different stages of the germ cells.

The Gonadosomatic Index (GSI = GW/BW*100) and the Somatic (K' = BW/TL b ) and Allometric (K" = TW/TL b ) Condition Factors were calculated from the angular coefficient (b) of the linear regression of the logarithm of weight on the logarithm of length. The gonad Condition Factor (ΔK) was obtained as K"- K', on the basis of the assumption that the period with the highest mean for the slope corresponds to the reproductive period because much of the energy accumulated by the individual has been allocated to the gonads (VAZZOLER 1996). The reproductive period was established for both sexes using the monthly variation in the GSI and ΔK scores and the frequencies of the gonadal maturation stages for the specimens collected from September 2008 through August 2009.

The degree of gonadal maturation was based on the variation in the histological characteristics of the gonads and the frequency distribution of the gonadal development stages using the following five-stage scale adapted from VAZZOLER (1996): immature or virgin, in maturation, mature, hyalinized/females, and reabsorption/females.

The mean length at first maturity (L50) was determined from the relative frequency distribution of mature individuals according to the total-length class, and the calculation was based on both sexes because of the small number of individuals examined. A sigmoid curve was obtained by fitting the following logistic equation: PM = 1/1+e(- a +b*LT), where PM is the relative proportion of mature individuals, TL is the total length (mm), and a and b are constants to be iteratively estimated with a nonlinear least-squares procedure. The mean size at first maturity corresponds to the inflection point of the sigmoid curve at this size, 50% of the individuals are mature (BEVERTON 1992).

The relationship between weight and length was calculated for both sexes through the following model: TW = a * TL b (LE CREN 1951), where a is the coefficient related to the increase in weight and b represents the allometric coefficient describing the individuals' growth type (KING 1995). The model was fitted with nonlinear regression by least squares (ZAR 1999). The Gauss-Newton algorithm was used to perform the iterations (MYERS 1990). Student's t-test (ZAR 1999) was used to determine whether b differed significantly from three, thus, defining allometric growth (if b = 3, the growth is isometric) and to test differences in the coefficients between the males and females.

Of the 274 specimens examined, 102 (37.2%) were males (142 mm < TL < 416 mm) and 134 (48.9%) were females (144 mm < TL < 444 mm). The sex of 38 additional specimens could not be determined.

The range of maturity for the females was based on the presence and frequency of the developmental stages of the ovarian follicle and included five stages of development with different characteristics ( Tab. I). Testicular development in the males was classified into three stages ( Tab. II).

The weight-length relationship for T. marginatus was TW = 0.000463*TL 2.7655 for females and TW = 0.000361*TL 2.8131 for males ( Fig. 1), and the b coefficients were significantly different for males and females (p < 0.05). Both sexes showed nega-tive allometric growth, with values for the b coefficient that were lower than the isometric value (3.0) (p < 0.05).

The highest incidence of mature individuals was observed from November through February ( Figs 2 and 3). Females with hyalinized ovaries, representing the last stage of maturity and indicating imminent spawning, were found only during those months. During December, January and February, 100% of the males collected were mature.

The monthly variation in the Gonadosomatic Index (GSI) and the gonad Condition Factor (ΔK) showed peaks in November for the females and January for the males ( Figs 4 and 5). In general, the values for the female gonad Condition Factor were much higher than for the males, but similar monthly fluctuation patterns occurred for both sexes.

The presence of two modal groups in the frequency-distribution analysis of the oocyte diameters in the immature stage ( Figs 6-10) revealed that the species shows synchronous oocyte development. This finding suggests total spawning. The first group (on the left-hand side of the graph) represents reserve-stock oocytes, present in all stages, and the second group (on the right-hand side) shows a modal displacement in size during development, that is, a maturation process. These maturing oocytes are ultimately released during the reproductive period.

The males of T. marginatus attain sexual maturity at 254.9 mm TL whereas the females reach sexual maturity at smaller sizes (187.2 mm TL). The mean size at first maturity (L50) for both sexes was 211.48 mm TL, and the equation for the L50 adjustment was PM = 1/1+e (7.6749-0.03629*LT) ( Figs 11-13).

The length-weight relationship is a very useful tool in fisheries assessment and the study of fish populations and is used primarily to understand the life cycle of a given species population (LE CREN 1951, ONIYE et al. 2006, HAIMOVICI & VELASCO 2000) and to provide information on the ecology of the species (KING 1995, MORATO et al. 2001). As it is generally easier to measure length than weight, the weight may later be predicted by using this relationship (BRAGA 1993).

The exact relationship between length and weight differs among fish species. BAGENAL & TESCH (1978) suggested that the b coefficient may vary among congeneric species and stocks of the same species. In the present study, the b values for the females and males of T. marginatus were 2.78 and 2.81, respectively. These values characterize negative allometric growth for both genders (LE CREN 1951), and, as indicated by KUMOLUJOHNSON & NDIMELE (2010), most fish species have negative allometric growth. Such a growth pattern was also found for other species, such as Trachinotus ovatus (Linnaeus, 1758) in the North Atlantic (MORATO et al. 2001), Trachinotus carolinus (Linnaeus, 1766) in Colombia (DUARTE et al. 1999), and Trachinotus falcatus (Linnaeus, 1758) and Trachinotus goodei Jordan & Evermann, 1896 in the Gulf of Mexico (GONZÁLES-GÁNDARA et al. 2003).

Although both sexes showed negative allometry, the females of T. marginatus had a lower allometry coefficient. This difference may be explained by the more rapid development of the female gonads relative to the increase in the length or weight of the fish, with marked changes in the body shape of the females occurring throughout the sexual cycle (ANGELESCU et al. 1958). NIKOLSKY (1963) referred to sexual differences in the body size and length-weight relationship as the most frequent form of sexual dimorphism among fish. The size of males is affected by sexual selection, with larger males enjoying a reproductive advantage (SHINE 1990). Moreover, the growth differential between the sexes may represent endogenous influences, such as genetics and hormonal action (ROYCE 1972).

Growth plays an important role in population dynamics and fisheries ecology (BEVERTON 1992) and is directly affected by temperature, feeding, spawning, and age (RICKER 1973), with a close association with the size or age of the species at first maturity (BARBIERI et al. 2004). The onset of sexual maturity plays an important role and sheds light on the life history of a given species during its evolution (LESSELS 1991). The females of T. marginatus reached first maturity at smaller sizes than the males. It is generally accepted that the optimal size at first reproduction depends upon many factors, including the relative allocation of energy between somatic and gonadal growth (POTTS & WOOTTON 1984).

With the exception of T. falcatus, which matures at approximately 500 mm TL and grows to more than one meter (CRABTREE et al. 2002), the vast majority of Trachinotus species, including T. marginatus (L50 = 211.5 mm TL), mature at approximately 200 mm TL (GÓMEZ 2002, SYLLA et al. 2009). This relatively small size at maturity indicates the occurrence of precocious sexual maturation for species, such as Trachinotus teraia Cuvier in Cuvier and Valenciennes, 1832 (SMITH-VANIZ et al. 1990) and T. goodei (GÓMEZ 2002), which may reach Lmax values of 700 mm. This strategy may be considered a positive tactic for obtaining reproductive success. Indeed, most Trachinotus species occupy highly variable environments (BARBIERI et al. 2004), and it has been suggested that early maturity can be related to an adaptive behavior that compensates for high juvenile losses as a consequence of the environmental stress that influences local recruitment.

Trachinotus marginatus showed a spawning period lasting from late spring through the end of summer (November through February). The highest GSI scores and the higher frequencies of the most-advanced gonadal stages in these warmer months supported this finding. Nevertheless, the GSI and ΔK did not present values as high as expected for December. This inconsistency may be explained by the relatively few specimens that were obtained for analysis in that month. The Condition Factor is an index related to the gonadal cycle (LIMA-JUNIOR et al. 2002) and is frequently used to show seasonal variations in biological parameters. An increase in the Condition Factor from the end of spring towards the summer was also an indication that the species was physiologically prepared for reproduction during that period.

The females showed higher mean GSI values than the males, as is also the case for T. teraia on the African coast (SYLLA et al. 2009). Such a pattern is due primarily to the females' higher gonadal development relative to the males, a common occurrence among teleost fish.

According to the pattern of female germ cell developmental dynamics, T. marginatus is an iteroparous species with synchronous oocyte development in two groups and with total spawning. Thus, it is concluded that T. marginatus presents a short, well-defined spawning period that is associated with total spawning and is restricted to the warmest period of the year in the southern hemisphere (i.e., November-February).

The occurrence of total spawning, the brief reproductive period and the early sexual maturity of T. marginatus show that the species has an opportunistic reproductive strategy. However, this study is the first work to address a number of aspects of reproduction in this species. Therefore, further studies are needed to test this hypothesis.

Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq) provided a master's fellowship to Valéria M. Lemos.


Species richness

Mean species richness of the focal assemblage for the reef sites surveyed from 2012 to 2014 was 13.27 species per site (SD = 5.06, range = 0–30, n = 3341). Results of our GAM selection process indicated that year and distance from mangrove were not significant covariates explaining reef fish species richness and were removed from our final model (Table 1). We found that of all habitat variables, mangrove extent (within a 25 km radius of a reef survey site) had the strongest relationship with species richness high mangrove extent was associated with higher levels of reef fish species richness. Our model suggested two apparent mangrove thresholds for reef fish richness: (1) a precipitous decline in species richness with decreasing mangrove extent below 20 km 2 and (2) a strong, almost linear, increase in richness with increasing mangrove extent above 80 km 2 (Fig. 2). The second strongest association was with seagrass, which the GAM reduced to a linear effect. At approximately 10 km 2 of seagrass extent, there is an increasing positive relationship with species richness with increasing seagrass extent, whereas reef sites below that value were associated with lower species richness than average (Fig. 2). Our results suggested that species richness declined below the threshold of 3 km 2 of reef extent (Fig. 2). We did not detect a relationship between species richness and the extent of nearby hardbottom habitat. Lastly, our final model results indicated a negative relationship between species richness and human population density, especially at reef sites that were beyond the threshold of 1.5 million people (from Greater Miami to Pompano Beach Fig. 2).

Smoothed model term Coef edf t/F P
Initial model
Intercept 0.0004 1.08 0.276
Yeara a Note that year was not significant after distance from mangroves was eliminated from model.
0.0065 167.32 <0.001
Mangrove forest extent 3.394 8.41 <0.001
Distance from mangroves 1.000 0.36 0.546
Seagrass extent 1.000 32.37 <0.001
Reef extent 3.778 8.69 <0.001
Hardbottom extent 3.828 3.52 0.005
Human population 3.421 3.04 0.021
Final model
Intercept 13.2700 167.30 <0.001
Mangrove forest extent 3.437 9.16 <0.001
Seagrass extent 1.000 36.60 <0.001
Reef extent 3.773 9.36 <0.001
Hardbottom extent 3.816 3.43 0.007
Human population 3.472 4.05 0.003


  • Seagrass, reef, and hardbottom were within 5 km of a survey site mangrove extent and human population were within 25 km of a survey site. For the smoothed terms, shown are the estimated degrees of freedom (edf) for each model term, as well as the estimate for the F statistic. The intercept and year were parametric terms and are shown with estimated coefficients (coef) and t values. Deviance explained for the final model is 18.5%, n = 3341. Results of the additive effects are shown in Fig. 2. Year and distance from mangrove were not significant and removed from the final model (see Methods for details).
  • a Note that year was not significant after distance from mangroves was eliminated from model.

Species-specific presence and absence

For the 3341 surveys, the number of species sightings (i.e., the number of dives that a particular species was sighted) ranged from 0 to 2728 (Table 2). Results of our species-specific LDAs suggested that for 62 of the 77 (81%) focalreef fish species, presence at a reef site could be significantly determined based solely on habitat variables, while 15 fish species were not significantly related to the habitat attributes examined (Table 2). The percent correctly classified by the LDA procedures ranged from 55% to 94% (Table 2). Results for year were mixed, most having no significant effect (“significant” here defined as a coefficient >0.2), a result not surprising given the limited study period (2012–2014).

Species No. Dives present (%) HR (km) P CC Year Dist Habitat extent HP
Abudefduf saxatilis S+ 663 19.8 0.5 <0.001 67% 0.02 0.02 0.55 0.96 <0.01 −0.23 −0.51
Acanthostracion quadricornis M+ 254 7.6 5 <0.001 73% 0.01 0.31 0.84 0.72 0.45 0.59 −0.33
Acanthurus bahianus CR+ 2689 80.5 5 <0.001 65% 0.18 0.36 0.18 0.21 0.87 −0.26 0.02
Acanthurus chirurgus S+ 1997 59.8 0.5 <0.001 61% −0.34 0.04 0.82 0.84 0.17 −0.2 −0.74
Acanthurus coeruleus CR+ 2312 69.2 0.5 <0.001 67% 0.1 0.5 0.61 0.61 0.63 −0.45 −0.56
Aetobatus narinari 18 0.5 25 0.59 ns ns ns ns ns ns ns
Anisotremus virginicus CR+ 1454 43.5 5 <0.001 59% 0.11 0.59 0.59 0.51 0.62 0.57 −0.2
Archosargus probatocephalus CR+ 51 1.5 5 <0.001 85% −0.25 0.1 0.25 0.45 0.69 0.33 0.02
Archosargus rhomboidalis 5 0.1 5
Astrapogon stellatus 0 0.0 0.5
Balistes capriscus P− 682 20.4 25 <0.001 65% 0.1 0.45 0.78 0.8 0.49 0.47 −0.82
Balistes vetula CR+ 50 1.5 25 0.006 64% 0.41 0.03 0.7 0.67 0.72 0.21 0.04
Bothus ocellatus 2 0.1 0.5
Calamus calamus P− 954 28.6 5 <0.001 63% −0.42 0.62 0.68 0.72 0.11 0.08 −0.85
Caranx crysos CR+ 311 9.3 25 <0.001 65% −0.23 0.29 0.69 0.77 0.87 0.37 −0.35
Caranx latus 7 0.2 25
Caranx ruber P− 1194 35.7 25 <0.001 58% −0.2 0.58 0.7 0.73 0.36 0.49 −0.89
Carcharhinus leucas 7 0.2 25
Carcharhinus limbatus 0 0.0 25
Centropomus undecimalis 8 0.2 5
Chaetodipterus faber CR+ 109 3.3 5 <0.001 57% −0.58 0.52 0.55 0.47 0.59 0.18 −0.42
Chaetodon capistratus DM+ 982 29.4 0.5 <0.001 68% 0.15 0.67 0.57 0.28 0.54 0.16 −0.62
Chaetodon striatus DM+ 299 8.9 0.5 <0.001 66% 0.15 0.83 0.51 0.27 0.42 0.14 −0.67
Chilomycterus schoepfii 7 0.2 5
Chriodorus atherinoides 0 0.0 5
Cryptotomus roseus M− 514 15.4 5 <0.001 61% 0.38 −0.22 −0.77 −0.7 −0.28 0.32 0.61
Dasyatis americana 34 1.0 5 0.14 ns ns ns ns ns ns ns
Diodon hystrix 33 1.0 0.5 0.035 ns ns ns ns ns ns ns
Diplectrum formosum P− 80 2.4 5 <0.001 62% 0.16 0.46 0.54 0.72 0.21 −0.37 −0.87
Diplodus holbrookii DM+ 78 2.3 5 <0.001 94% 0.09 0.48 0.1 0.43 0.38 0.18 0.14
Echeneis naucrates 82 2.5 25 0.08 ns ns ns ns ns ns ns
Elops saurus 0 0.0 25
Epinephelus itajara CR+ 22 0.7 5 <0.001 76% 0.05 −0.48 0.12 0.31 0.52 0.32 0.19
Epinephelus morio Y+ 379 11.3 5 <0.001 61% 0.78 0.2 −0.23 −0.44 0.19 <0.01 0.09
Epinephelus striatus S+ 20 0.6 5 <0.001 75% 0.4 0.04 0.67 0.79 –0.09 0.02 –0.65
Eucinostomus argenteus 2 0.1 5
Eucinostomus gula 0 0.0 5
Eucinostomus lefroyi 1 0.0 5
Gerres cinereus DM+ 37 1.1 5 <0.001 75% 0.01 0.79 0.01 0.1 0.31 0.01 0.14
Ginglymostoma cirratum 67 2.0 25 0.02 ns ns ns ns ns ns ns
Gymnothorax funebris S+ 61 1.8 0.5 <0.001 61% 0.08 0.09 0.31 0.35 −0.28 0.04 0.33
Haemulon album 70 2.1 5 0.12 ns ns ns ns ns ns ns
Haemulon aurolineatum CR+ 554 16.6 5 <0.001 61% 0.11 0.3 −0.22 −0.25 0.72 0.17 0.36
Haemulon carbonarium S+ 247 7.4 0.5 <0.001 62% 0.46 0.04 0.52 0.66 0.01 0.11 0.17
Haemulon chrysargyreum M+ 108 3.2 0.5 <0.001 64% 0.01 0.27 0.59 0.7 0.24 0.16 −0.56
Haemulon flavolineatum S+ 970 29.0 5 <0.001 64% 0.05 0.21 0.86 0.89 0.41 0.1 −0.53
Haemulon macrostomum 120 3.6 5 0.025 ns ns ns ns ns ns ns
Haemulon melanurum 200 6.0 5 0.08 ns ns ns ns ns ns ns
Haemulon parra P+ 216 6.5 5 0.002 58.40% 0.02 0.19 0.02 0.1 0.59 0.09 0.61
Haemulon plumierii S+ 1952 58.4 5 <0.001 66.20% 0.25 0.24 0.85 0.93 0.29 0.09 −0.52
Haemulon sciurus S+ 859 25.7 5 <0.001 62.40% −0.23 0.14 0.71 0.91 0.36 0.04 −0.48
Halichoeres bivittatus S+ 2288 68.5 0.5 <0.001 69% 0.09 0.03 0.61 0.76 −0.33 0.24 −0.32
Hippocampus erectus 0 0.0 0.5
Hypoplectrus puella S+ 124 3.7 5 <0.001 55% 0.14 0.35 0.82 0.9 0.24 0.06 −0.84
Lachnolaimus maximus M+ 1548 46.3 0.5 <0.001 68% 0.14 0.59 0.89 0.66 0.22 −0.46 −0.57
Lactophrys trigonus 34 1.0 5 0.03 ns ns ns ns ns ns ns
Lactophrys triqueter H+ 398 11.9 5 <0.001 56% 0.15 0.04 0.23 0.31 0.13 0.86 0.03
Lagodon rhomboides 2 0.1 5
Lutjanus analis H+ 775 23.2 5 <0.001 58.80% 0.31 0.48 0.05 −0.23 0.08 0.52 0.06
Lutjanus apodus S+ 249 7.5 5 <0.001 65.30% 0.02 0.26 0.86 0.93 0.25 0.14 −0.73
Lutjanus cyanopterus 4 0.1 5
Lutjanus griseus S+ 582 17.4 5 <0.001 60.90% 0.1 0.29 0.79 0.91 0.18 0.01 −0.78
Lutjanus jocu M+ 24 0.7 5 0.003 73% 0.41 0.44 0.48 0.21 −0.31 −0.24 −0.43
Lutjanus synagris CR+ 248 7.4 5 <0.001 67% 0.02 0.51 0.18 0.34 0.63 0.35 0.03
Megalops atlanticus 11 0.3 25 0.21 ns ns ns ns ns ns ns
Monacanthus ciliatus 8 0.2 0.5
Mycteroperca bonaci P− 283 8.5 5 <0.001 67% −0.41 0.61 0.69 0.72 0.01 0.14 −0.87
Negaprion brevirostris 2 0.1 5
Nes longus 0 0.0 0.5
Nicholsina usta CR+ 27 0.8 0.5 <0.001 72% 0.04 0.27 −0.29 −0.7 0.57 0.23 0.43
Oligoplites saurus 4 0.1 25
Orthopristis chrysoptera 4 0.1 5
Paraclinus marmoratus CR+ 255 7.6 0.5 <0.001 67% 0.19 0.64 0.42 0.33 0.68 −0.57 −0.4
Paralichthys albigutta 1 0.0 0.5
Pomacanthus arcuatus H− 1735 51.9 0.5 <0.001 59% −0.28 0.03 0.54 0.58 0.26 −0.79 −0.22
Pristis pectinata 0 0.0 5
Pterois volitans M+ 364 10.9 0.5 <0.001 63% 0.02 0.11 0.8 0.75 0.19 0.17 −0.41
Remora remora CR+ 25 0.7 25 0.004 69% 0.47 0.19 0.31 0.35 0.61 −0.26 0.04
Rhinesomus triqueter H+ 398 11.9 5 <0.001 56% 0.15 0.04 0.23 0.31 0.13 0.86 0.03
Scarus coelestinus S+ 179 5.4 5 <0.001 63% 0.06 0.35 0.88 0.95 0.21 0.08 −0.79
Scarus coeruleus M+ 401 12.0 0.5 <0.001 67.00% 0.19 0.42 0.89 0.76 0.03 −0.32 −0.79
Scarus guacamaia S+ 396 11.9 0.5 <0.001 69% 0.05 0.15 0.52 0.9 0.05 −0.21 −0.77
Scarus iseri M+ 2010 60.2 0.5 <0.001 72.40% −0.21 0.44 0.86 0.69 0.36 −0.37 −0.65
Scarus taeniopterus S+ 898 26.9 5 <0.001 61% 0.04 0.04 0.45 0.59 −0.5 0.4 −0.55
Scarus vetula M+ 207 6.2 0.5 <0.001 68% 0.04 0.59 0.65 0.38 0.52 0.06 −0.51
Scomberomorus cavalla 5 0.1 25
Scomberomorus maculatus H+ 32 1.0 25 <0.001 76% 0.49 0.32 0.57 0.64 0.28 0.75 −0.43
Selene vomer 0 0.0 25
Seriola dumerili 22 0.7 25 0.01 ns ns ns ns ns ns ns
Sparisoma atomarium Y+, DM+ 1376 41.2 0.5 <0.001 58% 0.56 0.56 0.05 −0.25 0.16 0.12 −0.33
Sparisoma aurofrenatum CR+ 2728 81.7 0.5 <0.001 75% <0.01 0.49 0.6 0.46 0.73 −0.48 −0.29
Sparisoma chrysopterum P− 682 20.4 0.5 <0.001 63% 0.04 0.66 0.77 0.8 0.14 0.16 −0.83
Sparisoma radians Y+ 305 9.1 0.5 <0.001 55% 0.77 0.1 0.39 0.6 0.11 0.16 −0.34
Sparisoma rubripinne S+ 695 20.8 0.5 <0.001 67% 0.09 0.29 0.69 0.91 0.28 −0.34 −0.48
Sparisoma viride M+ 1744 52.2 0.5 <0.001 65% 0.02 0.39 0.76 0.73 0.5 −0.37 −0.52
Sphoeroides nephelus 1 0.0 5
Sphoeroides spengleri P− 268 8.0 5 <0.001 59% 0.19 0.36 0.75 0.8 0.08 0.04 −0.93
Sphoeroides testudineus 11 0.3 5 0.01 ns ns ns ns ns ns ns
Sphyraena barracuda M+ 217 6.5 25 <0.001 58.20% 0.08 0.57 0.9 0.83 0.5 0.75 −0.82
Sphyrna tiburo 1 0.0 25
Stegastes leucostictus S− 847 25.4 0.5 <0.001 62% 0.26 0.39 −0.52 −0.56 0.19 0.08 0.05
Stegastes variabilis S+ 1693 50.7 0.5 <0.001 62% −0.32 0.17 0.67 0.73 0.15 0.14 −0.33
Strongylura notata 2 0.1 5
Syngnathus scovelli 0 0.0 0.5
Synodus foetens 25 0.7 0.5 0.036 ns ns ns ns ns ns ns
Synodus intermedius 58 1.7 0.5 0.463 ns ns ns ns ns ns ns
Trachinotus falcatus 11 0.3 25 0.21 ns ns ns ns ns ns ns


  • No., number of dives present HR, home range used in analysis CC, correctly classified Dist, distance from mangroves M, mangroves S, seagrass CR, coral reef H, hardbottom HP, human population density. Each species’ home range was used in the analysis, inferred from Green et al. ( 2015 ). Provided predicted classifications (correctly classified) are the percent correctly classified as a measure of LDA performance. Positive coefficients indicate that higher values of a variable were associated with the presence of a species, and a negative coefficient suggested that lower values of a variable were associated with species presence. Also shown are the number of sightings for each species and the percentage of dives that the fish was observed (of the total 3341 dives). Superscript code next to species name indicates strongest discriminant variable for the species. Y = year M = mangrove extent DM = distance from mangroves S = seagrass extent CR = coral reef extent H = hardbottom extent P = human population. A plus (+) or minus (−) sign signals direction of the relationship. Significance was determined using a family-wise alpha of 0.1 and a Hochberg correction to account for false discovery rate associated with multiple hypothesis testing (Benjamini and Hochberg 1995 ). Boldface values indicate “significance” for coefficients >0.20 following Jones et al. ( 1995 ).

Mangroves and seagrasses

Of the 62 reef fish species with significant results, 49 (79%) were more likely to occur at sites with higher mangrove extent, while five (8%) were more likely to occur at sites with lower mangrove extent (Table 2, Fig. 3A). We found that 42 of the 62 reef fish (68%) had a positive coefficient for distance from mangroves, indicating that increased distances from mangroves were associated with higher reef fish occurrences. Only two species (3%) had negative coefficient for distance from mangroves. For seagrass, higher frequencies of occurrence of 53 reef fish species (85%) were associated with greater extent of nearby seagrass, while eight species (13%) were associated with reef sites nearby to lower seagrass extent (Table 2, Fig. 3B). The presence of seagrass was the strongest discriminator for 18 reef fish species (17 positive and 1 negative), and for 11 reef fish species, mangroves was the strongest discriminating variable (10 positive and 1 negative). Only five species had distance from mangroves as the strongest discriminating variable (Table 2).

Coral reef and hardbottom

We found that 37 of the 62 reef fish species (60%) had higher frequency of occurrence with greater extent of coral reef nearby, whereas five species (8%) had higher occurrence with lesser extent of coral reef. For 14 of the species (29%), coral reef extent was the strongest discriminating variable, all with positive relationships (Table 2, Fig. 3A). Results of the LDA found that 18 reef fish species (29%) had increased occurrence with greater extent of hardbottom nearby, while 16 species (26%) had higher occurrence with lesser extent of hardbottom. Only five species had hardbottom as the strongest discriminating variable in our analyses four had higher occurrence with higher hardbottom extent and one with lower hardbottom extent (Table 2).

Human population

The occurrence of most reef fishes was negatively related to the presence of nearby human population density: 44 reef fishes (71%) were more likely to occur at sites with low levels of nearby human population, while six (7%) were more likely to be present at sites with high levels of human population (Table 2, Fig. 3C). Eight reef fish species had human population as the strongest discriminating variable, with seven species having higher occurrence with lower human population density and one with higher human population (Table 2).


History Edit

The queen conch was originally described from a shell in 1758 by Swedish naturalist and taxonomist Carl Linnaeus, who originated the system of binomial nomenclature. [1] Linnaeus named the species Strombus gigas, which remained the accepted name for over 200 years. Linnaeus did not mention a specific locality for this species, giving only "America" as the type locality. [12] The specific name is the ancient Greek word gigas ( γίγας ), which means "giant", referring to the large size of this snail compared with almost all other gastropod molluscs. [13] Strombus lucifer, which was considered to be a synonym much later, was also described by Linnaeus in Systema Naturae. [1]

In the first half of the 20th century, the type material for the species was thought to have been lost in other words, the shell on which Linnaeus based his original description and which would very likely have been in his own collection, was apparently missing, which created a problem for taxonomists. To remedy this, in 1941 a neotype of this species was designated by the American malacologists William J. Clench and R. Tucker Abbott. In this case, the neotype was not an actual shell or whole specimen, but a figure from a 1684 book Recreatio mentis, et occuli, published 23 years before Linnaeus was born by the Italian Jesuit scholar Filippo Buonanni (1638–1723). This was the first book that was solely about seashells. [12] [14] [15] [16] In 1953 the Swedish malacologist Nils Hjalmar Odhner searched the Linnaean Collection at Uppsala University and discovered the missing type shell, thereby invalidating Clench and Abbott's neotype designation. [17]

Strombidae's taxonomy was extensively revised in the 2000s and a few subgenera, including Eustrombus, were elevated to genus level by some authors. [18] [19] [20] Petuch [2] and Petuch and Roberts [21] recombined this species as Eustrombus gigas, and Landau and collaborators (2008) recombined it as Lobatus gigas. [20] In 2020, it was recombined as Aliger gigas by Maxwell and colleagues, [22] which is the current valid name according to the World Register of Marine Species. [23]

Phylogeny Edit

The phylogenetic relationships among the Strombidae were mainly studied by Simone (2005) [18] and Latiolais (2006), [19] using two distinct methods. Simone proposed a cladogram (a tree of descent) based on an extensive morpho-anatomical analysis of representatives of Aporrhaidae, Strombidae, Xenophoridae and Struthiolariidae, which included A. gigas (there referred to as Eustrombus gigas). [18]

With the exception of Lambis and Terebellum, the remaining taxa were previously allocated in the genus Strombus, including A. gigas. However, according to Simone, only Strombus gracilior, Strombus alatus and Strombus pugilis, the type species, remained within Strombus, as they constituted a distinct group based on at least five synapomorphies (traits that are shared by two or more taxa and their most recent common ancestor). [18] The remaining taxa were previously considered subgenera and were elevated to genus level by Simone. Genus Eustrombus (now considered a synonym of Lobatus [24] ), in this case, included Eustrombus gigas (now considered a synonym of Aliger gigas) and Eustrombus goliath (= Lobatus goliath), which were thus considered closely related. [18]

In a different approach, Latiolais and colleagues (2006) proposed another cladogram that attempts to show the phylogenetic relationships of 34 species within the family Strombidae. The authors analysed 31 Strombus species, including Aliger gigas (there referred to as Strombus gigas), and three species in the allied genus Lambis. The cladogram was based on DNA sequences of both nuclear histone H3 and mitochondrial cytochrome-c oxidase I (COI) protein-coding gene regions. In this proposed phylogeny, Strombus gigas and Strombus gallus (= Lobatus gallus) are closely related and appear to share a common ancestor. [19]

Common names Edit

Common names include "queen conch" and "pink conch" in English, caracol rosa and caracol rosado in Mexico, caracol de pala, cobo, botuto and guarura in Venezuela, caracol reina, lambí in the Dominican Republic and Grenada, [25] [26] [27] [28] [29] and carrucho in Puerto Rico. [30]

Shell Edit

The mature shell grows to 15–31 centimetres (5.9–12.2 in) in length in three to five years [31] [32] while the maximum reported size is 35.2 centimetres (13.9 in). However, even though they only grow to be this maximum length, the thickness of the shell is constantly increasing. [8] [16] [33] The shell is very solid and heavy, with 9 to 11 whorls and a widely flaring and thickened outer lip. The thickness is highly important because the thicker the shell, the better protected it is. Additionally, instead of increasing in size once it reaches its maximum, the outside shell thickens as time goes on- an important indicator of how old the queen conch is. [9] Although this notch is not as well developed as elsewhere in the family, [16] the shell feature is nonetheless visible in an adult dextral (normal right-handed) specimen, as a secondary anterior indentation in the lip, to the right of the siphonal canal (viewed ventrally). The animal's left eyestalk protrudes through this notch. [16] [30] [34] [35]

The spire is a protruding part of the shell that includes all of the whorls except the largest and final whorl (known as the body whorl). It is usually more elongated than in other strombid snails, such as the closely related and larger goliath conch, Lobatus goliath that is endemic to Brazil. [16] In A. gigas, the glossy finish or glaze around the aperture of the adult shell is primarily in pale shades of pink. It may show a cream, peach or yellow colouration, but it can also sometimes be tinged with a deep magenta, shading almost to red. The periostracum, a layer of protein (conchiolin) that is the outermost part of the shell surface, is thin and a pale brown or tan colour. [32] [34] [35]

The overall shell morphology of A. gigas is not solely determined by the animal's genes environmental conditions such as location, diet, temperature and depth, and biological interactions such as predation, can greatly affect it. [36] [37] Juvenile conches develop heavier shells when exposed to predators. Conches also develop wider and thicker shells with fewer but longer spines in deeper water. [37]

The shells of juvenile queen conches are strikingly different in appearance from those of the adults. Noticeable is the complete absence of a flared outer lip juvenile shells have a simple sharp lip, which gives the shell a conical or biconic outline. In Florida, juvenile queen conches are known as "rollers", because wave action very easily rolls their shells, whereas it is nearly impossible to roll an adult specimen, due to its shell's weight and asymmetric profile. Subadult shells have a thin flared lip that continues to increase in thickness until death. [38] [39] [40]

Conch shells are about 95% calcium carbonate and 5% organic matter. [41]

Historic illustrations Edit

Index Testarum Conchyliorum (published in 1742 by the Italian physician and malacologist Niccolò Gualtieri) contains three illustrations of adult shells from different perspectives. The knobbed spire and the flaring outer lip, with its somewhat wing-like contour expanding out from the last whorl, is a striking feature of these images. The shells are shown as if balancing on the edge of the lip and/or the apex this was presumably done for artistic reasons as these shells cannot balance like this.

One of the most prized shell publications of the 19th century, a series of books titled Illustrations conchyliologiques ou description et figures de toutes les coquilles connues, vivantes et fossiles (published by the French naturalist Jean-Charles Chenu from 1842 to 1853), contains illustrations of both adult and juvenile A. gigas shells and one uncoloured drawing depicting some of the animal's soft parts. [42] Almost forty years later, a colored illustration from the Manual of Conchology (published in 1885 by the American malacologist George Washington Tryon) shows a dorsal view of a small juvenile shell with its typical brown and white patterning. [40]

Soft parts Edit

Many details about the anatomy of Aliger gigas were not well known until Colin Little's 1965 general study. [43] In 2005, R. L. Simone gave a detailed anatomical description. [18] A. gigas has a long extensible snout with two eyestalks (also known as ommatophores) that originate from its base. The tip of each eyestalk contains a large, well-developed lensed eye, with a black pupil and a yellow iris and a small, slightly posterior sensory tentacle. [16] [31] Amputated eyes completely regenerate. [44] Inside the mouth of the animal is a radula (a tough ribbon covered in rows of microscopic teeth) of the taenioglossan type. [43] Both the snout and the eyestalks show dark spotting in the exposed areas. The mantle is darkly coloured in the anterior region, fading to light gray at the posterior end, while the mantle collar is commonly orange. The siphon is also orange or yellow. [43] When the soft parts of the animal are removed from the shell, several organs are distinguishable externally, including the kidney, the nephiridial gland, the pericardium, the genital glands, stomach, style sac and the digestive gland. In adult males, the penis is also visible. [43]

Foot/locomotion Edit

The species has a large and powerful foot with brown spots and markings towards the edge, but is white nearer to the visceral hump that stays inside the shell and accommodates internal organs. The base of the anterior end of the foot has a distinct groove, which contains the opening of the pedal gland. Attached to the posterior end of the foot for about one third of its length is the dark brown, corneous, sickle-shaped operculum, which is reinforced by a distinct central rib. The base of the posterior two-thirds of the animal's foot is rounded only the anterior third touches the ground during locomotion. [18] [43] The columella, the central pillar within the shell, serves as the attachment point for the white columellar muscle. Contraction of this strong muscle allows the animal's soft parts to shelter in the shell in response to undesirable stimuli. [43]

Aliger gigas has an unusual means of locomotion, first described in 1922 by George Howard Parker (1864–1955). [45] [46] The animal first fixes the posterior end of the foot by thrusting the point of the sickle-shaped operculum into the substrate, then it extends the foot in a forward direction, lifting and throwing the shell forward in a so-called leaping motion. This way of moving is considered to resemble that of pole vaulting, [47] making A. gigas a good climber even of vertical concrete surfaces. [48] This leaping locomotion may help prevent predators from following the snail's chemical traces, which would otherwise leave a continuous trail on the substrate. [49]

Aliger gigas is gonochoristic, which means each individual snail is either distinctly male or distinctly female. [30] Females are usually larger than males in natural populations, with both sexes existing in similar proportion. [50] After internal fertilization, [37] the females lay eggs in gelatinous strings, which can be as long as 75 feet (23 m). [35] These are layered on patches of bare sand or seagrass. The sticky surface of these long egg strings allows them to coil and agglutinate, mixing with the surrounding sand to form compact egg masses, the shape of which is defined by the anterior portion of the outer lip of the female's shell while they are layered. [37] [51] Each one of the egg masses may have been fertilized by multiple males. [51] The number of eggs per egg mass varies greatly depending on environmental conditions such as food availability and temperature. [37] [51] Commonly, females produce 8–9 egg masses per season, [30] [52] each containing 180,000–460,000 eggs, [35] but numbers can be as high as 750,000 eggs. [37] A. gigas females may spawn multiple times during the reproductive season, [35] which lasts from March to October, with activity peaks occurring from July to September. [30]

Queen conch embryos hatch 3–5 days after spawning. [53] [54] At the moment of hatching, the protoconch (embryonic shell) is translucent and has a creamy, off-white background color with small, pustulate markings. This coloration is different from other Caribbean Lobatus, such as Lobatus raninus and Lobatus costatus, which have unpigmented embryonic shells. [53] Afterwards, the emerging two-lobed veliger (a larval form common to various marine and fresh-water gastropod and bivalve mollusks) [55] spend several days developing in the plankton, feeding primarily on phytoplankton. Metamorphosis occurs some 16–40 days from the hatching, [37] when the fully grown protoconch is about 1.2 mm high. [50] After the metamorphosis, A. gigas individuals spend the rest of their lives in the benthic zone (on or in the sediment surface), usually remaining buried during their first year of life. [56] The queen conch reaches sexual maturity at approximately 3 to 4 years of age, reaching a shell length of nearly 180 mm and weighing up to 5 pounds. [30] [35] Individuals may usually live up to 7 years, though in deeper waters their lifespan may reach 20–30 years [35] [37] [50] and maximum lifetime estimates reach 40 years. [57] It is believed that the mortality rate tends to be lower in matured conchs due to their thickened shell, but it could be substantially higher for juveniles. Estimates have demonstrated that its mortality rate decreases as its size increases and can also vary due to habitat, season and other factors. [56]

Distribution Edit

Aliger gigas is native to the tropical Western Atlantic coasts of North and Central America in the greater Caribbean tropical zone. [35] Although the species undoubtedly occurs in other places, this species has been recorded within the scientific literature as occurring, in: [8] [58] [59] Aruba, (Netherlands Antilles) Barbados the Bahamas Belize Bermuda North and northeastern regions of Brazil (though this is contested) [16] Old Providence Island in Colombia Costa Rica the Dominican Republic Panama Swan Islands in Honduras Jamaica Martinique Alacran Reef, Campeche, Cayos Arcas and Quintana Roo, in Mexico Puerto Rico Saint Barthélemy Mustique and Grenada in the Grenadines Pinar del Río, North Havana Province, North Matanzas, Villa Clara, Cienfuegos, Holguín, Santiago de Cuba and Guantánamo, in the Turks and Caicos Islands and Cuba South Carolina, Florida, with the Florida Keys and Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, in the United States Carabobo, Falcon, Gulf of Venezuela, Los Roques archipelago, Los Testigos Islands and Sucre in Venezuela all islands of the United States Virgin Islands.

Habitat Edit

Aliger gigas lives at depths from 0.3–18 m [35] to 25–35 m. [33] [54] Its depth range is limited by the distribution of seagrass and algae cover. In heavily exploited areas, the queen conch is more abundant in the deepest range. [54] The queen conch lives in seagrass meadows and on sandy substrate, [50] usually in association with turtle grass (species of the genus Thalassia, specifically Thalassia testudinum [38] and also Syringodium sp.) [36] and manatee grass (Cymodocea sp.). [34] Juveniles inhabit shallow, inshore seagrass meadows, while adults favor deeper algal plains and seagrass meadows. [35] [60] The critical nursery habitats for juvenile individuals are defined by a series of characteristics, including tidal circulation and macroalgal production, which together enable high rates of recruitment and survival. [61] A. gigas is typically found in distinct aggregates that may contain several thousand individuals. [37]

Diet Edit

Strombid gastropods were widely accepted as carnivores by several authors in the 19th century, a concept that persisted until the first half of the 20th century. This erroneous idea originated in the writings of Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, who classified strombids with other supposedly carnivorous snails. This idea was subsequently repeated by other authors, but had not been supported by observation. Subsequent studies have refuted the concept, proving beyond doubt that strombid gastropods are herbivorous animals. [62] In common with other Strombidae, [19] Aliger gigas is a specialized herbivore, [32] that feeds on macroalgae (including red algae, such as species of Gracilaria and Hypnea), [40] seagrass [34] and unicellular algae, intermittently also feeding on algal detritus. [62] [63] The green macroalgae Batophora oerstedii is one of its preferred foods. [35]

Interactions Edit

A few different animals establish commensal interactions with A. gigas, which means that both organisms maintain a relationship that benefits (the commensal) species but not the other (in this case, the queen conch). Commensals of this species include certain mollusks, mainly slipper shells (Crepidula spp.) The porcelain crab Porcellana sayana is also known to be a commensal and a small cardinalfish, known as the conch fish (Astrapogon stellatus), [36] sometimes shelters in the conch's mantle for protection. [35] A. gigas is very often parasitized by protists of the phylum Apicomplexa, which are common mollusk parasites. Those coccidian [64] [65] parasites, which are spore-forming, single-celled microorganisms, initially establish themselves in large vacuolated cells of the host's digestive gland, where they reproduce freely. [64] [65] The infestation may proceed to the secretory cells of the same organ. The entire life cycle of the parasite typically occurs within a single host and tissue. [64]

Aliger gigas is a prey species for several carnivorous gastropod mollusks, including the apple murex Phyllonotus pomum, the horse conch Triplofusus papillosus, the lamp shell Turbinella angulata, the moon snails Natica spp. and Polinices spp., the muricid snail Murex margaritensis, the trumpet triton Charonia variegata and the tulip snail Fasciolaria tulipa. [16] [31] [66] Crustaceans are also conch predators, such as the blue crab Callinectes sapidus, the box crab Calappa gallus, the giant hermit crab Petrochirus diogenes, the spiny lobster Panulirus argus and others. [31] [66] Sea stars, vertebrates, horse conch, octopus eagle ray, nurse shark, fish (such as the permit Trachinotus falcatus [67] and the porcupine fish Diodon hystrix), loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) and humans also eat the queen conch. [31] [66]

Conch meat has been consumed for centuries and has traditionally been an important part of the diet in many islands in the West Indies and Southern Florida. It is consumed raw, marinated, minced or chopped in a wide variety of dishes, such as salads, chowder, fritters, soups, stew, pâtés and other local recipes. [31] [47] [34] [69] In both English and Spanish-speaking regions, for example in the Dominican Republic, Aliger gigas meat is known as lambí. Although conch meat is used mainly for human consumption, it is also sometimes employed as fishing bait (usually the foot). [57] [34] A. gigas is among the most important fishery resources in the Caribbean: its harvest value was US$30 million in 1992, [37] increasing to $60 million in 2003. [70] The total annual harvest of meat of A. gigas ranged from 6,519,711 kg to 7,369,314 kg between 1993 and 1998, later production declined to 3,131,599 kg in 2001. [70] Data about US imports shows a total of 1,832,000 kg in 1998, as compared to 387,000 kg in 2009, a nearly 80% reduction twelve years later. [71]

Queen conch shells were used by Native Americans and Caribbean Indians in a wide variety of ways. South Florida bands (such as the Tequesta), the Carib, the Arawak and Taíno used conch shells to fabricate tools (such as knives, axe heads and chisels), jewelry, cookware and used them as blowing horns. [31] [72] In Mesoamerican history, Aztecs used the shell as part of jewelry mosaics such as the double-headed serpent. [73] The Aztecs also believed that the sound of trumpets made from queen conch shells represented divine manifestations, and used them in religious ceremonies. [74] In central Mexico, during rain ceremonies dedicated to Tlaloc, the Maya used conch shells as hand protectors (in a manner similar to boxing gloves) during combat. [74] Ancient middens of L. gigas shells bearing round holes are considered an evidence that pre-Columbian Lucayan Indians in the Bahamas used the queen conch as a food source. [68]

Brought by explorers, queen conch shells quickly became a popular asset in early modern Europe. In the late 17th century they were widely used as decoration over fireplace mantels and English gardens, among other places. [47] In contemporary times, queen conch shells are mainly utilized in handicraft. Shells are made into cameos, bracelets and lamps, [34] [75] and traditionally as doorstops or decorations by families of seafaring men. [75] The shell continues to be popular as a decorative object, though its export is now regulated and restricted by the CITES agreement. [31] In modern culture, queen conch shells are often represented in everyday objects such as coins [74] [76] and stamps. [77] [78]

Very rarely (about 1 in 10,000 conchs), [31] a conch pearl may be found within the mantle. [31] [39] Though these pearls occur in a range of colors corresponding to the colors of the interior of the shell, pink specimens are the most valuable. [79] These pearls are considered semi-precious, [16] and a popular tourist curio. [34] The best specimens have been used to create necklaces and earrings. A conch pearl is a non-nacreous pearl (formerly referred to by some sources as a 'calcareous concretion') it differs from most pearls that are sold as gemstones in that it is not iridescent. [79] The specific weight of the conch pearl is 2.85, notably heavier than any other type. Due to the sensitive nature of the animal and the location of the pearl-forming portion of the snail within the spiral shell, commercial cultivation of pearls is considered virtually impossible. [80]

Research into the conch shell's unique architecture is currently under way at MIT. [81]

Threats Edit

Queen conch populations have been rapidly declining throughout the years and have been mostly depleted in some areas in the Caribbean due to the fact that they are highly sought after for their meat and their value. [82] Within the conch fisheries, one of the threats to sustainability stems from the fact that there is almost as much meat in large juveniles as there is in adults, but only adult conchs can reproduce, and thus sustain a population. [69] In many places where adult conchs have become rare due to overfishing, larger juveniles and subadults are taken before they ever mate.

In the United States (Florida), it is currently illegal to gather or pick the queen conch either recreationally or commercially. [83] In other parts of the world where it is legal, only adult conchs can be fished. The rule is to let each conch have ample time to reproduce before taken out of its habitat, potentially leading to a more stable population. However, this rule has not been followed by countless fishers. [82] [69] [84] On a number of islands, subadults provide the majority of the harvest. [85] The abundance of Aliger gigas is declining throughout its range as a result of overfishing and poaching. Especially because of overfishing, many pockets of conch communities fall below the critical level needed for reproducing. A 2019 study predicted overfishing could lead to the extinction of queen conchs in as little as ten years. [86] Additionally, if the conch fishery collapses, it could potentially leave over 9,000 Bahamian fishers out of work. [82] Trade from many Caribbean countries, such as the Bahamas, Antigua and Barbuda, Honduras, Haiti and the Dominican Republic, is known or thought to be unsustainable. [84] As of 2001, queen conch populations in at least 15 Caribbean countries and states were overfished or overexploited. [84] Illegal harvest, including fishing in foreign waters and subsequent illegal international trade, is a common problem in the region. [57] The Caribbean "International Queen Conch Initiative" is an international attempt at managing this species. [59] On 13 January 2019, the Bahamas' Department of Marine Resources announced it would be making official recommendations to better protect the conch, including ending exports and increasing regulatory staff. [82]

Presently, ocean acidification is another serious threat to the queen conch. Acidity levels are rising and adversely affecting shellfish larvae. Rising atmospheric CO2 levels result in rising levels of carbonic acid in seawater, which is particularly harmful to organisms with calcium carbonate shells and structures. Certain larval stages of shellfish are very sensitive to lower seawater pH. [87]

Conservation Edit

The queen conch fishery is usually managed under the regulations of individual nations. In the United States all taking of queen conch is prohibited in Florida and in adjacent Federal waters. No international regional fishery management organization exists for the whole Caribbean area, but in places such as Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, queen conch is regulated under the auspices of the Caribbean Fishery Management Council (CFMC). [57] In 2014, the Parties to the Convention for the Protection and Development of the Marine Environment of the Wider Caribbean Region (Cartagena Convention) included queen conch in Annex III of its Protocol Concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW Protocol). Species included in the Annex III require special measures to be taken to ensure their protection and recovery, and their use is authorised and regulated accordingly. [88] [89]

This species has been mentioned in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) since 1985. [37] In 1992 the United States proposed queen conch for listing in CITES Appendix II, making queen conch the first large-scale fisheries product to be regulated by CITES (as Strombus gigas). [57] [90] [91] In 1995 CITES began reviewing the biological and trade status of the queen conch under its "Significant Trade Review" process. These reviews are undertaken to address concerns about trade levels in an Appendix II species. Based on the 2003 review, [70] CITES recommended that all countries prohibit importation from Honduras, Haiti and the Dominican Republic, according to Standing Committee Recommendations. [92] Queen conch meat continues to be available from other Caribbean countries, including Jamaica and Turks and Caicos, which operate well-managed queen conch fisheries. [57] For conservation reasons, the Government of Colombia currently bans the commercialisation and consumption of the conch between the months of June and October. [93] The Bahamas National Trust is building awareness by educating teachers and students through workshops and an awareness campaign which includes the catchy pop song Conch Gone. [94]

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