Marine Biology

, Volume 101, Issue 4, pp 557–567 | Cite as

Planktonic larval duration of one hundred species of Pacific and Atlantic damselfishes (Pomacentridae)

  • G. M. Wellington
  • B. C. Victor


The plankton larval duration for 100 species of Pacific and Atlantic damselfishes was estimated from daily growth increments on the otolith of juvenile fish collected at various localities between July 1987 and September 1988. For newly-settled fishes, larval duration was determined by counting the entire number of increments present on the otolith, while for older juveniles estimates were made by counting the number of increments between the center of the otolith and a mark corresponding to settlement. We document the development of otolith formation during the period when eggs are incubated on the reef and show that daily increments are only accreted after larvae hatch and enter the planktonic phase. The planktonic larval duration for damselfish is shorter and less variable, both between and within species, compared to other groups of reef fishes such as wrasses and surgeonfishes. Larval duration ranged from 12 to 39 d. Average duration between species ranged from 13.1 to 35.2 d. The time spent in the plankton was not significantly correlated with geographic distribution when evaluated among species, however, genera with confined regional distribution have a shorter mean larval life than do widely distributed genera. Size at settlement was positively correlated with time spent in the plankton among species, but a significant correlation between these variables was only evident within one of ten species. The low variance in planktonic larval duration within species indicates that most damselfish are unable to delay metamorphosis following competency. This inability to postpone settlement limits the potential for dispersal, especially when dispersal time between suitable habitats is greater than about 30 d.


Geographic Distribution Suitable Habitat Average Duration Reef Fish Regional Distribution 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Literature cited

  1. Allen, G. R. (1975). Damselfishes of the south seas. Tropical Fish Hobbyist. Publications Inc., Neptune City, New JerseyGoogle Scholar
  2. Allen, G. R. (in press). Damselfishes of the world. Mergus Press, FRGGoogle Scholar
  3. Allen, G. R., Woods, L. P. (1980). A review of the damselfish genus Stegastes from the eastern Pacific with a description of a new species. Rec. West. Aust. Mus. 8: 171–198Google Scholar
  4. Bakun, A. (1986). Local retention of pelagic larvae in tropical demersal reef/bank systems: the role of vertically structured hydrodynamic processes. In: Pauly, D., Yañez, A. (eds.) Proceedings of the IREP/OSLR workshop on the recruitment of tropical coastal demersal communities, Campeche, Mexico. UNESCO, Paris, p. 15–32. (IOC/UNESCO Rep. Ser. No. 44)Google Scholar
  5. Barlow, G. W. (1981). Patterns of parental investment, dispersal and size among coral-reef fishes. Envir. Biol. Fish. 6: 65–85Google Scholar
  6. Bell, L. J., Moyer, J. T., Numachi, K. (1982). Morphological and genetic variation in Japanese populations of the anemonefish Amphiprion clarkii. Mar. Biol. 72: 99–108Google Scholar
  7. Brothers, E. B., Mathews, C. P., Lasker, R. (1976). Daily growth increments in otoliths from larval and adult fishes. Fish. Bull. U.S. 74: 1–8Google Scholar
  8. Brothers, E. B., McFarland, W. N. (1981). Correlations between otolith microstructure, growth, and life history transitions in newly recruited French grunts [Haemulon flavolineatum (Desmarest), Haemulidae]. Rapp. P.-v. Réun. Cons. perm. int. Explor. Mer 178: 369–372Google Scholar
  9. Brothers, E. B., Thresher, R. E. (1985). Pelagic duration, dispersal, and the distribution of Indo-Pacific coral reef fishes. In: Reaka, M. (ed.) The ecology of coral reefs. U.S. Department of Commerce, Washington, D.C., p. 53–69. (NOAA Symp. Ser. Undersea Res. Vol. 2.)Google Scholar
  10. Brothers, E.B., Williams, D. McB., Sale, P. F. (1983). Length of larval life in twelve families of fishes at “One Tree Lagoon”, Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Mar. Biol. 76: 319–324Google Scholar
  11. Burton, R. S. (1983). Protein polymorphisms and genetic differentiation of marine invertebrate populations. Mar. Biol. Lett. 4: 193–206Google Scholar
  12. Burton, R. S., Feldman, M. W. (1981). Population genetics of Tigriopus californicus: II. Differentiation among neighboring populations. Evolution, Lawrence, Kansas 35: 1192–1205Google Scholar
  13. Bussing, W. A. (1983). A new tropical eastern Pacific labrid fish, Halichoeres discolor endemic to Isla del Coco, Costa Rica. Revta Biol. trop. 31: 19–23Google Scholar
  14. Chambers, R. C., Leggett, W. C. (1987). Size and age at metamorphosis in marine fishes: an analysis of laboratory-reared winter flounder (Pseudopleuronectes americanus) with a review of variation in other species. Can. J. Fish. aquat. Sciences 44: 1936–1947Google Scholar
  15. Doherty, P. J. (1983). Tropical territorial damselfish: is density limited by aggression or recruitment? Ecology 64: 176–190Google Scholar
  16. Doherty, P. J., Williams, D. McB. (1988). The replenishment of coral reef fish populations. Oceanogr. mar. Biol. Rev. 26: 447–551Google Scholar
  17. Gooding, R., Magnuson, J. (1967). Ecological significance of a drifting object to pelagic fishes. Pacif. Sci. 21: 486–497Google Scholar
  18. Johannes, R. E. (1978). Reproductive strategies of coastal marine fishes in the tropics. Envir. Biol. Fish. 3: 65–84Google Scholar
  19. Leis, J. M. (1982). Nearshore distributional gradients of larval fish (15 taxa) and planktonic crustaceans (6 taxa) in Hawaii. Mar. Biol. 72: 89–97Google Scholar
  20. Leis, J. M., Goldman, B. (1984). A preliminary distributional study of fish larvae near a ribbon coral reef in the Great Barrier Reef. Coral Reefs 2: 197–203Google Scholar
  21. Leis, J. M., Miller, J. M. (1976). Offshore distributional patterns of Hawaiian fish larvae. Mar. Biol. 36: 359–367Google Scholar
  22. Lobel, P., Robinson, A. R. (1986). Transport and entrapment of fish larvae by ocean mesoscale eddies and currents in Hawaiian waters. Deep-Sea Res. 33: 483–500Google Scholar
  23. Pannella, G. (1971). Fish otoliths: daily growth layers and periodical patterns. Science, N.Y. 173: 24–27Google Scholar
  24. Pannella, G. (1980). Growth patterns in fish sagitta. In: Rhoads, D. C., Lutz, R. A. (eds.) Skeletal growth of aquatic organisms. Plenum Press, New York, p. 519–590Google Scholar
  25. Richards, W. J. (1984). Kinds and abundances of fish larvae in the Caribbean Sea and adjacent areas. NOAA natn. mar. Fish. Serv. tech. Rep. U.S. Dep. Commerce 776: 1–54Google Scholar
  26. Robertson, D.R., Green, D. G., Victor, B.C. (1988). Temporal coupling of reproduction and recruitment of larvae of a Caribbean reef fish. Ecology 69: 370–381Google Scholar
  27. Rosenblatt, R. H., Waples, R. S. (1986). A genetic comparison of allopatric populations of shore fish species from the eastern and central Pacific Ocean: dispersal or vicariance. Copeia 1986: 275–284Google Scholar
  28. Sale, P. F. (1980). The ecology of fishes on coral reefs. Oceanogr. mar. Biol. A. Rev. 18: 367–421Google Scholar
  29. Sale, P. F., Doherty, P. J., Eckert, G. J., Douglas, W. A., Ferrel, D. J. (1984). Large scale spatial and temporal variation in recruitment to fish populations on coral reefs. Oecologia (Berlin) 64: 191–198Google Scholar
  30. Sammarco, P. W., Andrews, J. C. (1988). Localized dispersal and recruitment in Great Barrier Reef corals: the helix experiment. Science, N.Y. 239: 1422–1424Google Scholar
  31. Schmitt, P. (1984). Marking growth increments in otoliths of larval and juvenile fish by immersion in tetracycline to examine the rate of increment formation. Fish. Bull. U.S. 82: 237–242Google Scholar
  32. Shaklee, J. B. (1984). Genetic variation and population structure in the damselfish, Stegastes fasciolatus, throughout the Hawaiian Archipelago. Copeia 1984: 629–640Google Scholar
  33. Shaklee, J. B., Tamaru, C.S., Waples, R. S. (1982). Speciation and evolution of marine fishes studied by the electrophoretic analysis of proteins. Pacif. Sci. 36: 141–155Google Scholar
  34. Shulman, M. J., Ogden, J. G., Ebersole, J. P., McFarland, W. N., Miller, S. L., Wolf, N. G. (1983). Priority effects in recruitment of juvenile coral reef fishes. Ecology 64: 1508–1513Google Scholar
  35. Sokal, R. R., Braumann, C. A. (1980). Significance tests for coefficients of variation and variability profiles. Syst. Zool. 29: 50–66Google Scholar
  36. Sweatman, H. P. A. (1985). The influence of adults of some coral reef fish species on larval recruitment. Ecol. Monogr. 55: 469–485Google Scholar
  37. Thomson, D. A., Findley, L. T., Kerstitch, A. N. (1979). Reef fishes of the Sea of Cortez. J. Wiley & Sons, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  38. Thresher, R.E. (1984). Reproduction in reef fishes. Tropical Fish Hobbyist Publications Inc., Neptune City, New JerseyGoogle Scholar
  39. Thresher, R.E., Brothers, E. B. (1985). Reproductive ecology and biogeography of Indo-West Pacific angelfish (Pisces: Pomacanthidae). Evolution, Lawrence, Kansas 39: 878–887Google Scholar
  40. Victor, B. C. (1982). Daily otolith increments and recruitment in two coral-reef wrasses, Thalassoma bifasciatum and Halichoeres bivittatus. Mar. Biol. 71: 203–208Google Scholar
  41. Victor, B. C. (1983). Recruitment and population dynamics of a coral reef fish population. Science, N.Y. 219: 419–420Google Scholar
  42. Victor, B. C. (1986a). Larval settlement and juvenile mortality in a recruitment-limited coral reef fish population. Ecol. Monogr. 56: 145–160Google Scholar
  43. Victor, B. C. (1986b). Delayed metamorphosis with reduced larval growth in a coral reef fish (Thalassoma bifasciatum). Can. J. Fish. aquat. Sciences 43: 1208–1213Google Scholar
  44. Victor, B. C. (1986c). Duration of the planktonic larval stage of one hundred species of Pacific and Atlantic wrasses (family Labridae). Mar. Biol. 90: 317–326Google Scholar
  45. Victor, B. C. (1987). Growth, dispersal, and identification of planktonic labrid and pomacentrid reef-fish larvae in the eastern Pacific Ocean. Mar. Biol. 95: 45–152Google Scholar
  46. Waples, R. S. (1987). A multispecies approach to the analysis of gene flow in marine shore fishes. Evolution, Lawrence, Kanasas 41: 385–400Google Scholar
  47. Williams, D. McB. (1980). Dynamics of the pomacentrid community on small patch reefs in One Tree Lagoon (Great Barrier Reef). Bull. mar. Sci. 30: 159–170Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. M. Wellington
    • 1
  • B. C. Victor
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of HoustonHoustonUSA
  2. 2.California College of MedicineUniversity of California at IrvineIrvineUSA

Personalised recommendations