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Spatial-and-Seasonal-patterns-in-species-composition-and-occurrence-of-fish-larvae-in-the-area-of-the-Canary-Islands-Eastern-Central-Atlantic

Spatial-and-Seasonal-patterns-in-species-composition-and-occurrence-of-fish-larvae-in-the-area-of-the-Canary-Islands-Eastern-Central-Atlantic

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Published by Antonio La Barbera
The species composition and occurrence of fish larvae in the area of the Canary Islands was studied regarding the influence
of hydrographic features on spatial and seasonal distribution patterns. A comprehensive annotated larvae taxa list with the
most important taxonomic characters is provided. Mostly late-stage larvae were caught by six pelagic cruises from 1997
to 2002 during different seasons in both the neritic and the oceanic realm off Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, and
Tenerife. A total of 5088 larvae, allocated to 16 orders, 54 families and 70 species, were collected with Engraulidae and
Gobiidae dominating the larval assemblage. Five new records could be documented for the Canarian Archipelago. In the area
of the Canary Islands two main seasonal periods with different hydrographic conditions can be recognized, low intensity of
the upwelling in winter and intense upwelling in spring and summer. The late winter bloom (LWB) and an associated stronger
West African coastal upwelling coincided with an increased diversity and species number of fish larvae. The local diversity and
species richness were highest in an area mostly influenced by the NW African upwelling. Especially in the islands’ wakes and
eddies the larvae accumulated with spatial overlap of oceanic and neritic species. These results corroborate the assumptions
that the Canary Islands are an important migratory area facilitating the colonization by tropical and temperate fish species,
upwelling enhances local productivity, and the islands’ wakes and eddies positively affect fish larvae abundance and diversity
and provide good nursery grounds.
The species composition and occurrence of fish larvae in the area of the Canary Islands was studied regarding the influence
of hydrographic features on spatial and seasonal distribution patterns. A comprehensive annotated larvae taxa list with the
most important taxonomic characters is provided. Mostly late-stage larvae were caught by six pelagic cruises from 1997
to 2002 during different seasons in both the neritic and the oceanic realm off Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, and
Tenerife. A total of 5088 larvae, allocated to 16 orders, 54 families and 70 species, were collected with Engraulidae and
Gobiidae dominating the larval assemblage. Five new records could be documented for the Canarian Archipelago. In the area
of the Canary Islands two main seasonal periods with different hydrographic conditions can be recognized, low intensity of
the upwelling in winter and intense upwelling in spring and summer. The late winter bloom (LWB) and an associated stronger
West African coastal upwelling coincided with an increased diversity and species number of fish larvae. The local diversity and
species richness were highest in an area mostly influenced by the NW African upwelling. Especially in the islands’ wakes and
eddies the larvae accumulated with spatial overlap of oceanic and neritic species. These results corroborate the assumptions
that the Canary Islands are an important migratory area facilitating the colonization by tropical and temperate fish species,
upwelling enhances local productivity, and the islands’ wakes and eddies positively affect fish larvae abundance and diversity
and provide good nursery grounds.

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Published by: Antonio La Barbera on Nov 21, 2012
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Families of this order are grouped into two suborders of deep-sea fshes. Characteristic for the suborder of Argentinoidei
is the voluminous medial fnfold in which the dorsal and anal fns form unattached to the body margin. First the pectoral
fns form which remain very small in argentinids and in some microstomatids (Bathylaginae), suborder Alepocephaloidei, and
subsequently the caudal fn develop. In the suborder of Alepocephaloidei the adipose fn is usually lacking. The preanal length
is shorter (50 – 70 % SL) than in the Argentinoidei (70 – 95 % SL). The gut is straight and extends about to the midpoint
of the body length and in all Argentinoidei the terminal section of the gut is defected. In most Argentinoidei the dorsal and
anal fn formation takes place during fexion. The anal fn develops just behind the defection point of the gut and is located
at the almost same spot as in the adults. The pelvic fn forms last at about mid-body, at the dorsal fn level in Argentinidae

and Microstomatidae. During transformation the body deepens, the snout elongates and the eye increases in size. But the
transformation to demersal juveniles may be protracted in some species by remaining in their pelagic habitat and keeping
the larval pigmentation.

-Reference:

AHLSTROM et al. (1984 a); OLIVAR and FORTUÑO (1991); RICHARDS (2006a);

ARGENTINOIDEI > ARGENTINIDAE

Characteristic for Argentinids is the series of ventral blotches from the pectoral fns to the caudal region. The number of
these blotches is constant for each species, as well as the sequence of their appearance. In some species these blotches form
lateral bars. The head is relatively small with a rounded profle. The eye is rounded to slightly ovoid. Transformation is gradual
with an increase in body depth, head length, eye size and pigmentation ending in the pelagic juvenile stage. The prolonged
transformation terminates when scales and a silvery integument are formed, and can be completed up to a size of 100 mm.

-Reference:

AHLSTROM et al. (1984 a);

• Argentina sphyraena

Meristics:

Development:

Vertebrae:

46 – 55

Hatching: 7 mm

Dorsal rays:

10 – 12

Anal rays:

11 – 15

Flexion: ~ 17 mm

Pelvic rays:

10 – 12

Pectoral rays:

15 – 18

3 RESULTS

36

Inf. Téc. Inst. Canario Cienc. Mar. n°13

-Morphology:

The anus is situated at about 2/3 down the total body length. The caudal fn is rounded at frst, but becomes biloped during
development. The dorsal and anal fn appear disattached from the body margin within the fnfold. First outlines of dorsal and
anal fns become visible with 14 – 15 mm and fexion starts at 17 mm. At a length of 27.5 mm the full number of fn rays is
developed. The adipose fn forms from the fnfold and the pelvic fns forms last at about 27.5 mm.

-Pigmentation:

There is no head pigmentation present in this family. A. sphyraena has only 7 ventral pigment patches, of which 5 are preanal
and 2 are postanal. These patches do not extend to the dorsal end, but some stellate chromatophores are present on the

gut. This pigmentation pattern is quite unique, but to do not confuse the larvae with other argentinids counting the pectoral
fn rays verifes the identifcation to this species.

-Reference:

BERTOLINI et al. (1956); COHEN (1984); SCHMIDT (1918);

-Reference material:

2 specimens; 11/97: 04/99: S19 (P191592); 03/02: S6 (P191593);

-Distribution:

A. sphyraena is a new record for the area of the Canary Islands. The previous closest Distribution was along the West African
coast. The larvae were found at a depth range of 980 – 1162 m southeast of Fuerteventura and at 553 – 716 m depth west
of Tenerife each during daytime in winter and spring, respectively.

• Glossanodon leioglossus

-Morphology:

The anus is located at 3/4 of total body length. At a length of 14 mm the disattached development of dorsal and anal fn
within the fnfold starts, connecting to the body as larval development progresses. The dorsal fn is located more posterior
than in Argentina sphyraena. The high pectoral fn ray number is the best distinguishing character from A. sphyraena and was
the only possibility to identify the larvae, since the pigmentation pattern was not that clear. At 30 mm length the full fn ray
numbers are developed in the larvae, followed by the formation of the adipose fn at about 33 – 35 mm.

-Pigmentation:

Characteristic is the pigment stripe from the snout to the operculum, interrupted by the eye. The total number of ventral

stripes is 9, where 7 are positioned preanally and 2 postanally. The stripes increase towards the dorsal margin with development,

but become restricted ventrally during later development.

Meristics:

Development:

Vertebrae (Myomeres):

49 – 51 (51)

Dorsal rays:

12 – 14

Anal rays:

10 – 13

Flexion: 15 mm

Pelvic rays:

11 – 12

Pectoral rays:

19 – 20

37

SPATIAL AND SEASONAL PATTERNS IN SPECIES COMPOSITION AND OCCURRENCE
OF FISH LARVAE IN THE AREA OF THE CANARY ISLANDS, EASTERN CENTRAL ATLANTIC

Inf. Téc. Inst. Canario Cienc. Mar. n°13

-Reference:

BERTOLINI et al. (1956); SCHMIDT (1918);

-Reference material:

2925 specimens; 03/02: S3 (P191596-1598); S6 (P191602); S16 (P191599-1601); S18 (P191594-1595);

-Distribution:

All specimens were found during winter on the cruise sampling southeast of Fuerteventura and were mainly caught at
mesopelagic depths within a range of 470 – 915 m during the daytime and within 440 – 665 m in the afternoon. Some larvae
were also caught at an epipelagic station at a depth of 185 – 211 m during the day.

MICROSTOMATIDAE

This family consists of two subfamilies, the Microstomatinae and the Bathylaginae, in which big eyes are characteristic. In
Bathylaginae the head size is moderate while the shape is variable. The snout is more elongated than in argentinids. The eye

shape varies from almost round to elliptical and may be stalked. The pigmentation patterns are variable and can either have
large isolated melanophores laterally on the last section of the gut and a single large blotch in the middle of the pectoral

fn and the anus, or they can have a series of small dots along their body, as seen in bathylagids. The head is pigmented,
especially on both jaws and on the opercle. The fexion is delayed and may be not completed by the end of the larval stage.

Bathylaginae have a direct transformation of morphological changes such as an increase in body depth, eye size, head size
and pigmentation. Also, the gut becomes coiled and covered by a black peritoneal sheath.

-Reference:

AHLSTROM et al. (1984 a); FAHAY (1983); NELSON (2006);

• Bathylagus sp.

The body is elongated. Most species of this genus generally have stalked eyes, but the proportions vary among species. The

pelvic fn is positioned below the dorsal fn. The adipose fn is present, but can be reduced to be nearly indiscernible in some

species.

-Reference:

FAHAY (1983);

-Reference material:

1 specimen; 05/99: S6 (P191604);

-Distribution:

The larva was caught at an epipelagic station in a depth range of 48 – 66 m far north off La Gomera and Tenerife at night

during late spring.

3 RESULTS

38

Inf. Téc. Inst. Canario Cienc. Mar. n°13

• Dolicholagus longirostris

-Morphology:

The larvae have a slender body with a slightly elongated snout. The eyes are stalked and the length of the stalks in relation to
the head length change during development. The mean values of the percentage of stalk to head length are 54% in prefexion
larvae, 48% during fexion and 27 % in postfexion larvae (Figure 28).

-Pigmentation:

D. longirostris develops a pattern of heavy pigmentation. At the posterior section of the gut a lateral series of small melanophores

and a series of rectangular melanophores along the hypaxial myomeres form in prefexion larvae. In late larvae, the lateral gut
melanophores span the entire gut. The anterior series has a wider spacing than the one found on the posterior gut section.

Also, along the epaxial myomeres rectangular melanophores develop from the posterior to the anterior part. The head is fully

pigmented from the opercle to the jaws. Although the single specimen examined was not in the best condition, the unique
pigmentation pattern made the species identifcation possible.

-Reference:

AHLSTROM et al. (1984 a); FAHAY (1983);

-Reference material:

1 specimen; 05/99: S6 (P191603);

-Distribution:

The only specimen was found at an epipelagic station at a depth of 48 – 66 m far north off La Gomera and Tenerife at night

during late spring season.

ALEPOCEPHALOIDEI > PLATYTROCTIDAE

The body shape is slender and some members of this family develop photophores during the yolk sac stage. In some species

a white tissue develops at the eyes and a spine is present at the cleithral symphysis. The distinctive character for this family
is the external very black coloured tube and sac above the cleithrum, which contains a luminous fuid. The preanal length
exceeds the midpoint of the body with an interspace between anus and anal fn origin.

-Reference:

RICHARDS and HARTEL (2006);

Meristics:

Vertebrae:

48 – 51

Dorsal rays:

10 – 12

Anal rays:

19 – 21

Pelvic rays:

9 – 10

Pectoral rays:

9 – 12

39

SPATIAL AND SEASONAL PATTERNS IN SPECIES COMPOSITION AND OCCURRENCE
OF FISH LARVAE IN THE AREA OF THE CANARY ISLANDS, EASTERN CENTRAL ATLANTIC

Inf. Téc. Inst. Canario Cienc. Mar. n°13

• Sagamichthys schnakenbecki

-Morphology:

Photophores are well developed and a white tissue surrounds the eyes, which does not occur on the infraorbitals. The anal
fn originates well behind the dorsal origin. There is no spine at the cleithral symphysis. I identifed the specimen based on the
presence of the external tube (Figure 29) and the fn ray count.

-Reference:

RICHARDS and HARTEL (2006);

-Reference material:

1 specimen; 04/99: S14 (P 17875);

-Distribution:

The only specimen of S. schnakenbecki was caught at a mesopelagic station south of Gran Canaria in a depth range from
480 – 694 m during the day in spring.

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