Istituto di Scienze Marine     
La Mesa M., Catalano B., Greco S. Some biological characteristics of early larvae Dacodraco hunteri (Notothenioidei: Channichthyidae) in the western Ross Sea. In: Polar Biology, vol. 35 (5) pp. 655 - 660. SPRINGER, 2012.
Ichtyoplankton surveys were carried out in the western Ross Sea by the R/V Italica in the austral summer 1996 and 1997-1998 to study species composition and spatial distribution of larval stages of fish. One of the most abundant icefish caught was Dacodraco hunteri, a poorly known channichthyid inhabiting the high-Antarctic Zone. Based on 382 yolk-sac larvae and 13 preflexion larvae, the study was focused to estimate spatial distribution and abundance, as well as diet and growth rate. The pigmentation pattern and some morphometric measurements were also recorded for comparative purposes. The specimens were caught in relatively restricted areas located in Terra Nova Bay and north of the Ross Ice Shelf on the Challenger and Joides Basins. The standardized abundance of early larvae ranged between 0.03 and 1.72 individuals 10(-3) m(3) in 1996 and 0.16-4.53 individuals 10(-3) m(3) in 1997-1998, respectively. Fitting a linear model to the mean length increase in larvae collected in subsequent catch dates, the growth rate was estimated to be approximately 0.11 mm/day. Based on back calculation of growth rate and presumed hatch size of 11 mm, larval hatching probably took place in mid-December. Diet of preflexion larvae consisted exclusively of larvae of the pelagic nototheniid Pleuragramma antarcticum, a key species of the high-Antarctic pelagic food web. Hence, D. hunteri probably plays a more important role than previously thought in the pelagic community of the Ross Sea.
DOI: 10.1007/s00300-011-1111-1
Subject icefish
spatial distribution
Southern Ocean

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