Research Article

Relationships between Fish and Otolith Size of the Blackspot Snapper Lutjanus ehrenbergii (Peters, 1869) Collected from the Coast of Muscat City, Sea of Oman  

Haitham K. Al-Busaidi1 , Laith A. Jawad2 , Abdullah H. Al-Balushi1
1 Oman Animal & Plant Genetic Resources Centre (OAPGRC), Scientific Research Council, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman
2 Flat Bush, Manukau, Auckland 2016, New Zealand
Author    Correspondence author
International Journal of Marine Science, 2017, Vol. 7, No. 40   doi: 10.5376/ijms.2017.07.0040
Received: 10 Aug., 2017    Accepted: 04 Sep., 2017    Published: 13 Oct., 2017
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This is an open access article published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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Al-Busaidi H.K., Jawad L.A., and Al-Balushi A.H., 2017, Relationships between fish and otolith size of the blackspot snapper Lutjanus ehrenbergii (Peters, 1869) collected from the coast of Muscat City, Sea of Oman, International Journal of Marine Science, 7(40): 386-393 (doi: 10.5376/ijms.2017.07.0040)

Abstract

In studies of prey-predator relationships, population dynamics and ichthyo-archaeology, the fish otoliths are commonly used to decide taxon, age and size of the teleost fishes. They can also be used to calculate the size of the prey. The relationships between otolith measurements (length and width) and fish body proportions (head, total and standard lengths) were estimated for blackspot snapper Lutjanus ehrenbergii collected from the Oman’s Sea, at Muscat City. Otolith length and width was shown to be good indicators for the length of fish. Linear function offered the best fit for relations between otolith and fish body proportions. Sizes of the left and right otoliths were found not be significantly different.

Keywords
Lutjanidae; Lutjanus ehrenbergii; Otolith size; Sea of Oman; Fish size

Introduction

For the studies of population dynamics and feeding habit studies, otoliths are frequently used to recognize fish species and to assess their age and size (Viva et al., 2015). The predator consumption rates, biomass of the prey consumed, and selectivity of a predator towards a specific size class of prey are sets of biological and ecological information that usually used in the feeding studies. In getting such information, the original size of the ingested prey needs to be estimated (Granadeiro and Silva, 2000; Watanabe et al., 2004; Battaglia et al., 2010). Otolith measurements are usually used to rebuild the prey body size by linking the correlation between otolith length and fish size (Templemann and Squires, 1956; Echeveria, 1987; Panfili et al., 2002).

 

The alleged proportionality between otolith growth and fish somatic (i.e. body) growth (Campana, 1990; Maceina et al., 2007) has been the principal investigation tool for the purpose of reconstructing individual growth history, which is well documented and has significant potential for the previous analysis of environmental impacts on growth forms in populations (Campana, 2005; Maceina et al., 2007; Rypel, 2009). Implication on the relationships between environmental causes and past growth in populations can be useful for extrapolating how populations will react to future environmental variations (Rypel, 2009). Numerous previous studies have evaluated different quantifiable approaches for describing this relationship and its accuracy for back-calculation of length-stage (Campana, 1990; Francis, 1990; Secor et al., 1992; Perez and Munch, 2013). However, application may be restricted in some cases by lack of methodological guidance for individual species (Maceina et al., 2007).

 

The blackspot snapper L. ehrenbergii is a marine species found in association with reefs and living at depth range 5-20 m (Lieske and Myers, 1994). It mainly distributed in the Indo-West Pacific region from the Red Sea to East Africa and to the east to the Solomon and Mariana Islands (Froese and Pauly, 2017). Adult members of this species prefer shallow coastal areas and form large schools near freshwater run-offs, while juveniles inhabit intertidal regions (Kuiter and Tonozuka, 2001). This species feeds on invertebrates and small fish (Fischer et al., 1990).

 

The aim of the present work is to estimate the relationship between otolith sizes (length and width) and fish length (total, standard and head lengths) in the blackspot snapper L. ehrenbergii collected from the Sea of Oman at the coasts of Muscat City, Oman. These data are useful to researchers studying food habits of predator species, to determine the size of prey from the length of recovered otoliths.

 

1 Materials and Methods

A total of 40 L. ehrenbergii obtained between May and June of 2017 from the commercial bottom artisanal catch operating at the waters of Muscat City, Oman (Figure 1). The collected specimens were measured for total length (TL); standard length (SL) and head length (HL) using digital calipers sensitive to 0.1 mm. Otoliths (sagittae) were removed, cleaned and stored dry in vials. Otolith major axis (length OL) and minor axis (width OW) were measured to the nearest 0.1 mm using a dissection microscope provided with a micrometer eyepiece. The relationships between otolith dimensions and fish size and fish head length were calculated using the following formula:

 

Y=a Xb

 

Where Y= morphological characters, X= Fish total length, standard length or head length, a and b= constants. According to the law of the allometry, “b” would take a value close to 1. To test this value, a Student test “t” was used.

 

 

Figure 1 Map showing collection area

 

The relationships, otolith length (OL)-fish length (TL), otolith length (OL)-fish length (SL), otolith width (OW)-fish length (TL), otolith width (OW)-fish length (SL), otolith length (OL)-fish head length (HL), and otolith width (OW)-fish head length (HL).

 

The model with the highest coefficient of determination (R2) was chosen to describe the above-mentioned relationships. Differences between coefficients of regressions generated separately for right and left otoliths were tested by analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) (Zar, 1999). In case of equation coefficients did not disagree statistically, a single regression was considered for each parameter using the mean of right and left otolith measurements. An ANOVA F-test was used to test the significance of the slope of the regression (testing the null hypothesis H0: b=0). The allometry was evaluated by testing the significance of the allometric coefficient “b” (b=1, b<1 and b>1 for isometry, negative allometry and positive allometry respectively) that used as a measure for the intensity of differential increase in the morphological characters relative to a specific reference length (Van Snik et al., 1997). The regression equations between the total length and otolith length, total length and otolith width, standard length and otolith length, standard length and otolith width, head length and otolith length, and head length and otolith width were calculated with the Excel programme using power equation with best fit trend line and R2.

 

2 Results

The average total length was 173.0 mm (154~198 mm), standard length 151 (131~168 mm) and head length 55 mm (42~65 mm). The otolith length OL ranged from 59 to 70 mm and otolith width OW from 34 to 39 mm. As no significant differences (t-test for paired comparisons, p<0.05) were found between left and right otolith length and width data, only the left sagittae measurements were used for determining the relationship between fish size and otolith size.

 

Values of a and b of the otolith length and width-fish total, standard and head length relationships and the associated statistical information are provided in Table 1. The highest value of b was observed for the otolith width OL-Fish total length TL (0.8630) and lowest value is observed for otolith length OL-Fish head length HL (0.2461).

 

 

Table 1 Otolith major axis length (Otolith length, OL) and minor axis length (otolith width, OW)-fish morphometrics (head length, HL, standard length, SL, total length, TL) relationships

 

All the relationships studied have shown a negative allometry. The values of correlations obtained from the six relationships were higher than 0.8. The highest correlation values (0.9723 and 0.9712) were observed in the relationships, otolith length OL-fish head length and otolith length OW-fish total length TL respectively. The lowest correlation value (0.8627) was observed in the relationship, otolith length OL-fish standard length SL (Table 1). Both otolith length and width gave the best estimations for both fish total length and head lengths (Figure 2; Figure 3; Figure 4; Figure 5; Figure 6; Figure 7).

 

 

Figure 2 The relationship between otolith length and fish total length

 

 

Figure 3 The relationship between otolith length and fish total length

 

 

Figure 4 The relationship between otolith length and fish standard length

 

 

Figure 5 The relationship between otolith length and fish standard length

 

 

Figure 6 The relationship between otolith length and fish head length

 

 

Figure 7 The relationship between otolith length and fish head length

 

3 Discussion

In addition to the morphology of the otolith, the relationships between fish sizes and otolith sizes are useful means in distinction of species, stock and population. Such relationships can be exploited to valuate fish size and biomass in food and feeding studies (Granadeiro and Silva, 2000; Campana and Thorrold, 2001; Campana, 2005; Hussy et al., 2012). Studies on these features of fishes from Omani waters are limited (Al-Mamry et al., 2010; Jawad et al., 2011a; 2011b; Jawad and Al-Mamry, 2012). The resources in Omani waters are the least explored with regard to such studies on both deep and pelagic sea fishery (Haleem et al., 2011a; 2011b).

 

It is a common in the fisheries studies to use otolith width and height as variables for valuing fish size (Battaglia et al., 2010; 2015). The present study puts forward the equations based on otolith length and width dimensions in relation to fish total, standard and head length of the blackspot snapper L. ehrenbergii from the Omani waters for the first time. Therefore, no comparison was made in the present study for the values of b and R2.

 

Present study assessed the somatic relationship with otolith length and width, which is expected to give more accurate conclusions. Study indicated strong correlation between otolith width and fish head and total lengths. Many researchers reported similar relationships between otolith and somatic measurements (Lombarte and Lleonart, 1993; Lleonart et al., 2000; Metin and Ilkyaz, 2008; Tuset et al., 2010; Jawad et al., 2011a; 2011b; Jawad and Al-Mamry, 2012; Valinassab et al., 2012).

 

The strong correlation between the otolith size and fish body measurements suggests that somatic growth have noteworthy effect on the otolith growth (Munk, 2012). Both otolith length and width were found to be an appropriate for inferring fish length for L. ehrenbergii. There is no substantial difference between the right and left otolith indicated that these are mirror images of each other (Hunt, 1979). Previous studies by Harvey et al. (2000) and Waessle et al. (2003) confirmed the similarity of right and left otolith in Lutjanus benghalensis. Similarly, Jawad et al. (2011c) showed the same results on Lutjanus benghalensis from Omani waters. The relationship between otolith length width and fish body proportions is related to the growth rate of the fish (Mugiya and Tanaka, 1992) and these relationship became curvilinear in some larval or juvenile fishes (West and Larkin, 1987), such curvilinearity was observed in the present study, but not in the previous similar studies on fishes from Oman (Al-Mamry et al., 2010; Jawad et al., 2011a; 2011b; Jawad and Al-Mamry, 2012). Harvey et al. (2000), Waessle et al. (2003) and Battaglia et al. (2010) have suggested that there is a possibility of getting error in the final results of the relationship between otolith dimensions and fish size due to changes in this relationship during the life history of the fish and as the fish length changes (Frost and Lowry, 1981; Hare and Cowen, 1995).

 

Since L. ehrenbergii being a dominant species in reef areas and prey of many carnivorous fishes, the assessment of specific relationships would be very much useful to estimate the size of preys during the food and feeding studies. This study anticipated to give an enhanced understanding in the trophic relationship in the Sea of Oman food web by the reconstruction of the prey size using the otolith dimensions. It also will be useful in the paleontological studies. Such numerical relations to predict fish size from the otolith size need to be determined for more species, to supplement the studies and understand the trophic relationship between the fishes from the Omani waters, quite renowned for its rich fish diversity.

 

Otolith may have been exposed to chemical and mechanical abrasion while they are in the stomach of the predator. Such unfavourable exposure might lead to under valuation of otolith size (Granadeiro and Silva, 2000). The strongly correlated relationship of head length and total length of the fish and otolith width was inspected and the study resolved that these equations can be used to calculate the prey size for trophic dynamics studies. Battaglia et al. (2010) have suggested that these equations are suitable within the size ranges used in this study for precise estimations. On the other hand, Campana and Casselman (1993), Reichenbacher et al. (2009), Hare and Cowen (1995) have gave a set of limitations in predicting the prey size of even the same species using the regression equations. These limitations are the geographical areas, stocks, populations, sexes, ontogenic changes in the life history.

 

4 Conclusion

In conclusion, the relationships between otolith length and width were shown to be good indicators for the total and head length of fish and to a less extent to the standard length of the fish. Linear function offered the best fit for relations between otolith and fish body proportions.

 

Authors’ contributions

All authors have contributed equally toward the publication of this paper.

 

Acknowledgments

Our sincere thanks are due to Oman Animal & Plant Genetic Resources Centre (OAPGRC), Scientific Research Council, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman, for giving us the opportunity to work on the fish specimens. Also, to N. Jayabalan, India for the assessment in the statistical analyses.

 

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