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Ontogenetic allometry of the bluemouth, Helicolenus dactylopterus (Teleostei: Scorpaenidae), in the Northeast Atlantic and Mediterranean using Geometric Morphometrics

Rodríguez R1, Muñoz M2, Saborido-Rey F1

1Instituto de Investigaciones Marinas (CSIC), Eduardo Cabello 6, 36208 Vigo, Spain

2Departament de Ciències Ambientals, Campus Montilivi, Universitat de Girona, 17071 Girona, Spain

The bluemouth, Helicolenus dactylopterus, is a deep-sea scorpionfish, widely distributed in the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean. There is a growing commercial interest in this species as new resources need to be found by the fishing fleet due to the depletion of traditional resources. However, there is little information about the stock structure, stock dynamics and life history parameters of the bluemouth in both the Northeast Atlantic and the Mediterranean. In the context of identification of phenotypic stocks, it is important to study and understand ontogenetic allometry in fish populations, since morphological differences often arise from changes in the timing of developmental events and may lead to substantial life history differences. Thus, the aim of this study was to determine the ontogenetic (allometric) trajectories of shape for several bluemouth populations in Northeast Atlantic and Mediterranean waters using landmark-based geometric morphometric techniques. For this purpose, 7 locations were included in the analyses: Gulf of Cadiz, Galicia, Cantabrian Sea and the Porcupine Bank in the NE Atlantic and Alboran Sea, Alicante and the Catalonian coast in the western Mediterranean. Allometric patterns of shape variation for bluemouth from all the study areas were also characterized and visualized using the thin-plate spline interpolation function. The importance of these patterns in stock identification is discussed.

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