Field comparison of sardine post-flexion larval growth and biochemical composition from three sites in the W Mediterranean (Ebro river coast, bays of Almería and Málaga)
Keywords:sardine larvae, Mediterranean, growth, DNA, RNA, proteins, carbohydrates
Late larval stages of sardine (16-23 mm) were sampled during the 2003 spawning season in their nursery grounds located off the Ebro river mouth, on the Catalan coast, and in two bays of the Alborán Sea coasts, the Bay of Almería and the Bay of Málaga. The daily growth analysis of each sampled population revealed faster growth in the Ebro sardine larvae than in both of the Alboran Sea larval populations. This fact is supported by their greater content with age of DNA, RNA and protein. However, the significantly higher carbohydrate content of the Bay of Almería sardine larvae and a higher Fulton’s index, indicative of energy storage of individuals, in both of the sardine populations sampled in the Bays of Almería and Málaga show evident differences in the daily growth of the Alborán Sea larvae from those originating in the Ebro region. Late larval growth in the Alborán Sea sardine tends to favour an increase in body mass rather than in body length. This study hypothesises that the productivity pulses off the Alboran Sea coasts induced by the north and northwestern wind regimes may be responsible for the growth pulses observed in the otolith microstructure.
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