Planktonic larval duration and settlement marks on the otoliths of Mediterranean littoral fishes


The planktonic larval duration (PLD) was estimated for 42 species of littoral fishes from the north-western Mediterranean Sea. Daily increments and settlement marks on the otoliths (sagittae or lapilli) of new settlers and post-settlers were used to determine the larval stage duration. We also used PLD in the new settlers of some species to confirm the accuracy of the settlement marks in post-settlers. The duration of the planktonic larval stage ranges from 9 days in Symphodus ocellatus to 55 days in Xyrichtis novacula and 71 days in Lipophrys trigloides. Species in the same family did not display any clear tendency toward having similar PLDs. On the other hand, larval duration tended to be similar within a genus, with the exception of Lipophrys. Among conspecifics, the time spent in the plankton usually varied only by 2–7 days, except in Aidablennius sphynx, Lipophrys trigloides, Coris julis and Thalassoma pavo. No clear patterns were discernible in genera, with some species that settled in winter and other species that settled in summer, although we observed a certain tendency of individuals of closely related species (e.g. family Sparidae) to have a shorter larval duration in the warmer part of the year than in the colder part of the year. Settlement marks have been observed on the otoliths of all the species studied, and the PLDs in new settlers are an appropriate means of validating settlement marks. A rapid decrease in increment width over settlement (type Ia) is the most common type of mark (66.7% of the total species studied).

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Raventós, .N., Macpherson, .E. Planktonic larval duration and settlement marks on the otoliths of Mediterranean littoral fishes. Marine Biology 138, 1115–1120 (2001).

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  • Larval Stage
  • Clear Pattern
  • Total Species
  • Clear Tendency
  • Coris