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Preliminary indication of ontogenetic and spatial variations in the whole otolith isotopic and elemental signatures of Solea solea in the Gulf of Lions (NW Mediterranean)
Fabien Morat, Raymonde Lecomte-Finiger, Dominique Blamart, Michel Robert and Yves Letourneur

Knowledge of fish life cycles is important for exploited species. In the Mediterranean Sea, catches of common sole (Solea solea) have fluctuated widely since the 1970s. Solea solea displays an ontogenetic shift in habitat: sole larvae are marine, juveniles inhabit shallow marine waters and coastal lagoons and adults inhabit deeper marine waters. Although the results of this study were obtained using only a small set of individuals, the otolith elemental composition and isotopic ratios were investigated for the three life stages (post-larval, juvenile and adult) in order to acquire a better knowledge of the variability in environmental conditions experienced by the common sole at each life stage in the NW Mediterranean. Moreover, this study provides the first evaluation of the potential of whole otolith microchemistry for investigating habitat connectivity in sole populations from the Gulf of Lions. The elemental and isotopic signatures of otoliths of post-larvae captured in various environments appear to show variations related to the River Rhône inputs (high Ba/Ca and low Sr/Ca ratios). Juveniles appear to show significant variations in otolith elemental and isotopic compositions depending not only on the physico-chemical properties of water in the nurseries they inhabit (Rhône River, Thau or Mauguio lagoons), but also as a result of variations in the chemical composition of their surrounding sediments and in their benthic prey. Adults exhibit otolith differences for isotopic ratios only, which is probably linked to the River Rhône inputs. Finally, several significant relationships were observed between otolith elemental composition and fish size in specimens captured at the River Rhône mouth. However, these variations seem to be an indication of the composition acquired in each environment rather than a sign of ontogeny.

Keywords: flatfish, otolith microchemistry, stable isotope, coastal lagoon, River Rhône
Contents of this volume Sci. Mar. 76(4) : 647-657 Back PDF
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