Scientia Marina, Vol 73, No 1 (2009)

Otolith growth of European sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax L.) larvae fed with constant or varying food levels

Belén Aguilera
Institut de Ciències del Mar (CSIC) , Spain

Ignacio A. Catalán
Departament d’Ecologia i Recursos Marins, Institut Mediterrani d’Estudis Avançats , Spain

Isabel Palomera
Institut de Ciències del Mar (CSIC) , Spain

M. Pilar Olivar
Institut de Ciències del Mar (CSIC) , Spain


Otolith growth and the value and properties of the Recent Otolith Growth Index (ROGI) were studied in sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax L.) larvae that were reared for the first month of life with four different feeding regimes: fed, non-fed, late-feeding and late two-day fast. A marking experiment using alizarin complexone was previously carried out to validate increment deposition. Daily increment deposition was observed to take place from day two after hatching (DAH). The different feeding regimes did not significantly affect the periodicity of otolith increment deposition but did affect increment width. The ROGI was used as a tool for assessing feeding-induced differences in condition. Non-fed larvae had significantly smaller otoliths than fed larvae at the same age. In the late-feeding larvae (food available from 13 DAH), increment width increased progressively once food was supplied, and reached values similar to those for fed larvae after one week of feeding. Deprivation of food for two days in post-flexion larvae (in the fourth week of larval development) was reflected in the formation of progressively narrower increments which had still not returned to normal width two days after feeding was resumed. Our results show that the width of the outermost otolith increments reflect the past feeding history and that the ROGI can be used to distinguish well fed from suboptimally nourished larvae.


otolith; recent growth; condition; Dicentrarchus labrax; larvae; feeding; validation

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