Scientia Marina, Vol 78, No 3 (2014)

An approach to unraveling the coexistence of snappers (Lutjanidae) using otolith morphology

Zahra Sadighzadeh
Marine Biology Department, Graduate school of Marine Science and Technology, Science and Research Branch, Islamic Azad University , Iran, Islamic Republic of

Jose Luís Otero-Ferrer
Universidade de Vigo, Departamento de Ecología y Biología Animal , Spain

Antoni Lombarte
Institut de Ciéncies del Mar (CSIC) , Spain

Mohammad R. Fatemi
Marine Biology Department, Graduate school of Marine Science and Technology, Science and Research Branch, Islamic Azad University , Iran, Islamic Republic of

Víctor Manuel Tuset
Institut de Ciéncies del Mar (CSIC) , Spain


The sagittae otolith morphology of marine fishes has been used in many ecomorphological studies to explain certain ecological adaptations of species to habitat. Our study compares the sagittal otolith shapes of ten species of snappers (Family Lutjanidae) inhabiting the Persian Gulf. We used a morphometric analysis of the otolith measurements (length, height, perimeter, area and weight) and of the ratio between the area of the sulcus acusticus and the area of the otolith (S:O). The otolith contour was also analysed using wavelets as a mathematical descriptor. Morphological variations in the otoliths were associated with the morphology and external colouration of snappers as well as ecological traits. An analysis of the interspecific S:O ratio suggested that the highest ratios occurred in snappers inhabiting shallower waters. A categorical multivariate analysis, including morphological, ecological and otolith size factors, showed that the species adapted to dim light conditions had a greater otolith perimeter. An analysis of variance of the otolith contour revealed zones with a higher interspecific variability, although only the antero-dorsal zone showed differing patterns. Although the otolith patterns appear to have a phylogenetic component, they might also be related to diel activity rhythms or to the light conditions in the habitat. The results of the study showed that variation in otolith morphology can be used to explain the coexistence of sympatric species.


otolith; morphology; biodiversity; functional ecology; snappers; Lutjanidae

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