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Early life history of larvae and early juvenile Atlantic horse mackerel Trachurus trachurus off the Portuguese west coast

Beveren, Elisabeth Van, Klein, Maria, Serrão, Ester A., Gonçalves, Emanuel J., Borges, Rita
Fisheries research 2016 v.183 pp. 111-118
Trachurus trachurus, coasts, fish, growth models, hatching, juveniles, larvae, life history, monitoring, otoliths, postlarvae, reefs, Portugal
Early life history traits (ELHTs) are key to understand recruitment patterns in marine animals. However, for reef fishes, studies on ELHTs are mainly focused on tropical systems and little is known for temperate reefs. In this study we used SMURFs (Standard Monitoring Units for the Recruitment of Reef Fishes) to collect fish in a temperate rocky reef system (Arrábida Marine Park, Portugal) on a weekly basis for three months during the recruitment period. Six sub-surface SMURFs sampled 2490 Atlantic horse mackerel (Trachurus trachurus) postlarvae and juveniles. Sagittal and lapilli otoliths were extracted from a subsample of 296 fish and ELHTs, such as size and age at settlement, growth rate and age at first secondary growth formation were examined. Additionally, we tested three growth curves and selected the best suited to back-calculate the hatching pattern based on the lengths of all sampled fish. Standard length ranged from 6.13mm to 48.56mm and subsampled fish were aged between 19days to 44 days. Age and size at settlement were estimated between 19days and 36days for individuals of 6.13mm and 24.95mm, respectively. Otolith shape changed clearly with increasing age and, on average, secondary growth started to form on day 33 (±3 days). Age/length relationship was well described by a Gompertz growth model which was used to back-calculate hatching dates. Four distinct hatching cohorts were identified with fish of the earliest cohort showing a faster body and otolith growth. This study indicates that the nearshore environment might have an important role in the early growth, development and hence recruitment of Atlantic horse mackerel. Information on the early life history of Atlantic horse mackerel is key to understand recruitment processes for this economically and biologically important species.