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Differentiating morpho-functional patterns of the five most common deep-sea benthic anglerfishes (Lophiiformes) from Andaman and Nicobar Islands (eastern Indian Ocean)

Meleppura Rajeeshkumar
Centre for Marine Living Resources and Ecology, Ministry of Earth Sciences, Govt. of India, India

Kannamkulathil Vijayan Aneesh Kumar
Centre for Marine Living Resources and Ecology, Ministry of Earth Sciences, Govt. of India, India

José Luís Otero-Ferrer
Biostatech, Advice, Training and Innovation in Biostatistics (Ltd), Spain

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

Manjebrayakath Hashim
Centre for Marine Living Resources and Ecology, Ministry of Earth Sciences, Govt. of India, India

Narayanane Saravanane
Centre for Marine Living Resources and Ecology, Ministry of Earth Sciences, Govt. of India, India

Veloorkirakathil Narayanan Sanjeevan
Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies (KUFOS), India

Mallavarapu Venkata Ramana Murthy
Centre for Marine Living Resources and Ecology, Ministry of Earth Sciences, Govt. of India, India

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


Anglerfishes are widely distributed from shallow to deep-water habitats occupying different ecological niches. To explain this adaptability, we performed a morpho-functional study on common benthic anglerfishes inhabiting the Indian deep-sea waters. Sensory capabilities of species were examined using the morphology and morphometry of sagitta otoliths (related to detection sound and hearing) and eye size (related to visual communication). We also performed an analysis of the degree of functional niche overlap using fish body traits to understand the coexistence of species. Otoliths showed a morphological pattern similar to that of other anglerfishes: an archaesulcoid sulcus acusticus and variability in the irregularity of the dorsal margin. This last feature affected the allometric relationships between the otolith morphometry and fish length, as well as the otolith relative sizes of each species. The findings suggested that bigger otoliths are associated with the increase of depth distribution of species up to 1000 m, from which it decreases. Our hypothesis is that anglerfishes with irregular otolith shapes could be linked to more nocturnal feeding behaviour because they were characterized by greater eye sizes. The results also indicated interspecific significant differences in functional traits providing a low niche overlap. Therefore, our study supports the hypothesis of an environmental and ecological specialization of benthic anglerfishes.


fish body traits; otolith shape; ecomorphology; Lophiiformes

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