Scientia Marina, Vol 73, No S2 (2009)

Age and growth of black scabbardfish (Aphanopus carbo Lowe, 1839) in the southern NE Atlantic

Ana Rita Vieira
Departamento de Biologia Animal and Centro de Oceanografia, Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal

Inês Farias
Unidade de Recursos Marinhos e Sustentabilidade, IPIMAR, Portugal

Ivone Figueiredo
Unidade de Recursos Marinhos e Sustentabilidade, IPIMAR, Portugal

Ana Neves
Departamento de Biologia Animal and Centro de Oceanografia, Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal

Beatriz Morales-Nin
CSIC/UIB, Institut Mediterrani d’Estudis Avançats, Spain

Vera Sequeira
Departamento de Biologia Animal and Centro de Oceanografia, Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal

Maria Rogélia Martins
Unidade de Recursos Marinhos e Sustentabilidade, IPIMAR, Portugal

Leonel Serrano Gordo
Departamento de Biologia Animal and Centro de Oceanografia, Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal


Though whole otoliths are commonly adopted in age assignment of black scabbardfish, this study showed that sectioned otoliths are more appropriate because growth increments are more evident and ageing of larger specimens is easier. Vertebrae are not the most appropriate structure for ageing but, in the absence of otoliths, this structure may be useful in age assignment of this species. To verify possible differences between age and growth among specimens from the southern NE Atlantic, 1075 sectioned otoliths from specimens from mainland Portugal, 436 from Madeira and 107 from the Azores were analysed and the distribution of length-at-age obtained for each sex and region was determined. Significant differences were obtained in the comparison of the distribution of length-at-age between Madeira, the mainland and the Azores. The von Bertalanffy growth model was applied to back-calculated mean length-at-age data from Madeira (Lt = 1586 [1 – e –0.119(t+2.282)] females; Lt = 1461 [1 – e –0.146(t+1.441)] males) and mainland (Lt = 1354 [1 – e –0.170(t+2.040)] females; Lt = 1240 [1 – e –0.208(t+1.654)] males), and significant differences in the growth equations were obtained. Furthermore, a regression tree model was used to investigate how growth is conditioned by reproduction. The results showed a clear separation between individuals from the two areas, both females and males from the mainland (non-reproductive individuals) being characterised by a lower gonadosomatic index and a lower age.


Aphanopus carbo; black scabbardfish; whole and sectioned otoliths; vertebrae; precision estimators; age and growth

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