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Characteristics of survivors: growth and nutritional condition of early stages of the hake species Merluccius paradoxus and M. capensis in the southern Benguela ecosystem
Grote, B.; Ekau, W.; Stenevik, E.K.; Clemmesen, C.; Verheye, H.M.; Lipinski, M.R.; Hagen, W. (2012). Characteristics of survivors: growth and nutritional condition of early stages of the hake species Merluccius paradoxus and M. capensis in the southern Benguela ecosystem. ICES J. Mar. Sci./J. Cons. int. Explor. Mer 69(4): 553-562. hdl.handle.net/10.1093/icesjms/fss020
In: ICES Journal of Marine Science. Academic Press: London. ISSN 1054-3139, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keywords
    Merluccius capensis Castelnau, 1861 [WoRMS]; Merluccius paradoxus Franca, 1960 [WoRMS]; Marine
Author keywords
    Benguela current Cape hake growth nutritional condition otolith RNA:DNA ratio survival strategy

Authors  Top 
  • Grote, B.
  • Ekau, W.
  • Stenevik, E.K.
  • Clemmesen, C.
  • Verheye, H.M.
  • Lipinski, M.R.
  • Hagen, W.

Abstract
    Larval mortality in marine fish is strongly linked to characteristic traits such as growth and condition, but the variability in these traits is poorly understood. We tried to identify the variability in growth in relation to conditions leading to greater survival chances for early stages of Cape hake, Merluccius paradoxus and M. capensis, in the Benguela upwelling ecosystem. During two cruises in 2007 and one cruise in 2008, hake larvae and juveniles were caught. Otolith microstructures revealed a larval age ranging from 2 to 29 days post-hatching (dph), whereas juvenile age was 67–152 dph. RNA:DNA ratios, used to evaluate nutritional condition, were above the relevant threshold level for growth. No strong coupling between growth and condition was detected, indicating a complex relationship between these factors in the southern Benguela ecosystem. Merluccius paradoxus juveniles caught in 2007 (the surviving larvae of 2006) had significantly higher larval growth rates than larvae hatched in 2007 and 2008, possibly indicating selection for fast growth in 2006. High selection pressure on growth could be linked to predation avoidance, including cannibalism.

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