Genetic and morphologic differentiation of the Lusitanian toadfish (Halobatrachus didactylus) between estuarine and coastal areas in Portugal


  • Joana F. Marques Universidade de Lisboa, Faculdade de Ciências, Instituto de Oceanografia, Lisboa
  • Ana Luísa Rego Universidade de Lisboa, Faculdade de Ciências, Instituto de Oceanografia, Lisboa
  • José Lino Costa Universidade de Lisboa, Faculdade de Ciências, Instituto de Oceanografia, Lisboa
  • Maria José Costa Universidade de Lisboa, Faculdade de Ciências, Instituto de Oceanografia, Lisboa
  • Henrique N. Cabral Universidade de Lisboa, Faculdade de Ciências, Instituto de Oceanografia, Lisboa



Halobatrachus didactylus differentiation, allozymes, morphology, population structure, coastal areas


The Lusitanian toadfish, Halobatrachus didactylus (Bloch and Schneider, 1801), is distributed from the Ghana coast to the Iberian Peninsula, being particularly abundant on the south coast of Portugal. The differentiation of this species along the Portuguese coast was assessed through the analysis of 10 samples, considering morphological characters (20 morphometric and 16 meristic) and genetic markers (10 allozymes, 11 loci). Southern samples included estuaries and their adjacent coastal areas, given that this species inhabits both environments, whereas western samples only comprised estuaries. Morphometric and meristic data discriminant analysis evidenced some differentiation between estuarine and coastal populations. This was not entirely corroborated by the genetic analysis, which showed an overall pattern of low FST (0.042) and Nei’s genetic distance, even between geographically distant areas. However, higher values of these parameters were found between estuaries of the south coast and their adjacent coastal areas, suggesting that estuarine systems play a major role in such differentiation. Results are discussed regarding toadfish life-history pattern and Portuguese coast geomorphology, giving an insight into the biological and environmental factors influencing population sub-structuring.


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How to Cite

Marques JF, Rego AL, Lino Costa J, Costa MJ, Cabral HN. Genetic and morphologic differentiation of the Lusitanian toadfish (Halobatrachus didactylus) between estuarine and coastal areas in Portugal. Sci. mar. [Internet]. 2006Dec.30 [cited 2024Mar.3];70(4):749-58. Available from:




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