Scientia Marina, Vol 74, No 4 (2010)

Age and growth of the black scorpionfish, Scorpaena porcus (Pisces: Scorpaenidae) from artificial structures and natural reefs in the Adriatic Sea

Mario La Mesa
CNR, Istituto di Scienze Marine, UOS di Ancona , Italy

Giuseppe Scarcella
CNR, Istituto di Scienze Marine, UOS di Ancona , Italy

Fabio Grati
CNR, Istituto di Scienze Marine, UOS di Ancona , Italy

Gianna Fabi
CNR, Istituto di Scienze Marine, UOS di Ancona , Italy


Age and growth of the black scorpionfish, Scorpaena porcus, were estimated for different populations inhabiting natural reefs and artificial structures (artificial reefs and offshore gas platforms) in the northwestern Adriatic Sea. Annual growth increment counts were carried out on sagittal otoliths of 415 specimens ranging from 80 to 280 mm TL. The accuracy of age estimates was assessed by testing the annual deposition of annuli and the location of the first annulus by marginal increment analysis and daily growth increment counts, respectively. As commonly observed in other scorpaenids, annuli consisted of an alternating pattern of opaque and translucent zones. Marginal increment analysis confirmed that annuli are formed once a year, with opaque zones laid down in spring-summer and translucent zones laid down in autumn-winter. The precision of age estimates was tested by applying both the average percent error (APE) and the mean coefficient of variation (CV). The maximum age estimated for the whole sampled populations was 8 years. The von Bertalanffy growth curves were separately fitted for natural and artificial reef populations of S. porcus. The likelihood ratio test indicated that the overall von Bertalanffy growth curves differed significantly between the two populations. The instantaneous growth rate (k, year-1) and asymptotic length (L, cm) were 0.23 and 22.30 and 0.53 and 20.13 for natural and artificial reef populations, respectively. Compared with natural reef population, populations of S. porcus inhabiting artificial reefs and, particularly, offshore platforms, were characterized by larger and older fish. However, young-of-the-year were completely absent from the platform habitats. The effects of artificial structures on S. porcus populations in the study area are discussed in the light of previous results on scorpionfish living in other areas.


Scorpaena porcus; age and growth; natural reefs; artificial structures; Adriatic Sea

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