Body shape variation and colour change during growth in a protogynous fish
Protogynous sequential hermaphroditism is very common in marine fish. Despite a large number of studies on various aspects of sequential hermaphroditism in fish, the relationship between body shape and colour during growth in dichromatic species has not been assessed. Using geometric morphometrics, the present study explores the relationship between growth, body shape and colouration in Coris julis (L. 1758), a small protogynous labrid species with distinct colour phases. Results show that body shape change during growth is independent of change in colour phase, a result which can be explained by the biology of the species and by the social control of sex change. Also, during growth the body grows deeper and the head has a steeper profile. It is hypothesized that a deeper body and a steeper profile might have a function in agonistic interactions between terminal phase males and that the marked chromatic difference between colour phases allows the lack of strict interdependence of body shape and colour during growth.