Original Article

Helgoland Marine Research

, Volume 60, Issue 1, pp 18-24

First online:

Discrimination of snipefish Macroramphosus species and boarfish Capros aper morphotypes through multivariate analysis of body shape

  • Marta LopesAffiliated withInstituto Nacional de Investigação Agrária e das Pescas (INIAP/IPIMAR) Email author 
  • , Alberto G. MurtaAffiliated withInstituto Nacional de Investigação Agrária e das Pescas (INIAP/IPIMAR)
  • , Henrique N. CabralAffiliated withInstituto de Oceanografia, Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa


The existence of two species of the genus Macroramphosus Lacepède 1803, has been discussed based on morphometric characters, diet composition and depth distribution. Another species, the boarfish Capros aper (Linnaeus 1758), caugth along the Portuguese coast, shows two different morphotypes, one type with smaller eyes and a deeper body than the other, occurring with intermediate forms. In both snipefish and boarfish no sexual dimorphism was found with respect to shape and length relationships. However, females in both genera were on average bigger than males. A multidimensional scaling analysis was performed using Procrustes distances, in order to check if shape geometry was effective in distinguishing the species of snipefish as well as the morphotypes of boarfish. A multivariate discriminant analysis using morphometric characters of snipefish and boarfish was carried out to validate the visual criteria for a distinction of species and morphotypes, respectively. Morphometric characters revealed a great discriminatory power to distinguish morphotypes. Both snipefish and boarfish are very abundant in Portuguese waters, showing two well-defined morphologies and intermediate forms. This study suggests that there may be two different species in each genus and that further studies on these fish should be carried out to investigate if there is reproductive isolation between the morphotypes of boarfish and to validate the species of snipefish.


Morphometrics Capros aper Macroramphosus