Hatching patterns and larval growth of a triplefin from central Chile inferred by otolith microstructure analysis
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The subtidal rocky reefs are home to a diverse range of marine animals, including small cryptic fishes, characterised by a bipartite life cycle, with benthic adults and pelagic larval stage that lasts from several days to several months. Using the otolith microstructure analysis, this study determines the hatching and larval growth patterns of the abundant triplefin Helcogrammoides chilensis (Pisces: Tripterygiidae). Fish larvae were collected during September–October 2010 and between July 2012 and April 2013 in nearshore waters (<500 m) of central Chile. Nearshore time series of ichthyoplankton samples showed that large abundance of this species occurs during early austral spring and autumn seasons. Body lengths ranged from 3.11 to 16.57 mm (1–57 days old). Sagittal microincrement analyses estimate that during the main reproductive season, larval growth rates are slow, varying between 0.145 and 0.156 mm day−1 at a weekly scale. Back-calculated hatch days and circular statistics indicate a major hatch pulse occurring near full moon of the lunar cycle. These results suggest that reproduction occurs coupled with the upwelling season, which reduces the probability of starvation, and hatching occurs during spring tides (full moon), which increases larval dispersion and population connectivity.
KeywordsOtolith Lunar cycle Hatching pattern Tripterygiidae Helcogrammoides chilensis
The authors want to thank to Jorge Contreras, María José Ochoa-Muñoz, Franco Salas-Berrios and Dr. Randy Finke for their field work on-board RV Ilan, and Dr. Lidia Mansur for her comments and support. Two anonymous reviewers improve with their comments a previous version of the ms. This research was supported by Comisión Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología [FONDECYT Grant Number 1100424 to FPO, GP and MFL].
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