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Dependence of RNA:DNA ratios and Fulton’s K condition indices on environmental characteristics of plaice and dab nursery grounds
De Raedemaecker, F.; Brophy, D.; O’Connor, I.; O’Neill, B. (2012). Dependence of RNA:DNA ratios and Fulton’s K condition indices on environmental characteristics of plaice and dab nursery grounds. Est., Coast. and Shelf Sci. 98: 60-70. dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecss.2011.11.033
In: Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science. Academic Press: London; New York. ISSN 0272-7714, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in Authors 
    VLIZ: Open Repository 236759 [ OMA ]

Keywords
    Limanda limanda (Linnaeus, 1758) [WoRMS]; Pleuronectes platessa Linnaeus, 1758 [WoRMS]; Marine
Author keywords
    habitat quality; condition indices; juvenile flatfish; Pleuronectes platessa; Limanda limanda; Ireland; Galway Bay

Authors  Top 
  • De Raedemaecker, F., more
  • Brophy, D.
  • O’Connor, I.
  • O’Neill, B.

Abstract
    This field study showed a lack of a correlation between a morphometric (Fulton’s K) and biochemical (RNA:DNA ratio) condition index in juvenile plaice (Pleuronectes platessa) and dab (Limanda limanda) studied to assess habitat quality in four sandy beach nursery grounds in Galway Bay, Ireland. Based on monthly surveys from June to September in 2008 and 2009, fish growth, indicated by RNA:DNA ratios and Fulton’s K, displayed considerable spatio-temporal variability. Site-related patterns in Fulton’s K for plaice and dab were consistent between years whereas RNA:DNA ratios displayed annual and interspecific variability among nursery habitats. This indicates a higher sensitivity of RNA:DNA ratios to short-term environmental fluctuations which is not apparent in Fulton’s K measurements of juvenile flatfish. Generalized Additive Modelling (GAM) revealed non-linear relationships between the condition indices and (biotic and abiotic) habitat characteristics as well as diet features, derived from gut content analyses. Density of predators, sediment grain size and salinity were the most important predictors of both condition indices. Temperature also affected condition indices in dab whereas plaice condition indices varied with depth. Diet features did not contribute to the explained variability in the models predicting RNA:DNA ratios whereas certain prey groups significantly improved the explained variability in the models predicting Fulton’s K of plaice and dab. The value of both indices for assessing fish condition and habitat quality in field studies is discussed. These findings aid understanding of the biological and physical mechanisms promoting fast growth and high survival which will help to identify high quality nursery areas for juvenile plaice and dab.

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