Istituto di Scienze Marine     
La Mesa M., Catalano B., Koubbi P., Jones C. Early ontogeny of the mackerel icefish, Champsocephalus gunnari, in the southern Scotia Arc. In: Polar Biology, vol. 36: pp. 797 - 805. Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg, 2013.
During the early ontogeny of fishes, the timing and duration of key events such as larval hatching and the switch from endogenous to exogenous feeding largely determine the offspring viability and survival. The aim of the present study was to investigate the life history traits of the early larvae of the mackerel icefish, Champsocephalus gunnari, collected in summer south of the South Shetland Islands in the Bransfield Strait and north of Elephant Island. Through the analysis of sagittal otolith microstructure, we assessed the timing and duration of egg incubation, larval hatching, first exogenous feeding, rate of yolk resorption and body growth rate. Compared to populations living further north (i.e. around South Georgia and Kerguelen Islands), mackerel icefish in the southern Scotia Arc exhibits longer egg incubation (lasting 90-120 days from winter to summer) and delayed hatching time spread over a relatively short period lasting 26 days between January and February. The first exogenous feeding takes place between 13 and 24 days after hatching still in the presence of the yolk-sac, indicating a prolonged mixed feeding afterward. The specific growth rate or daily percentage change in size (G) was 1.9 % SL day-1, corresponding to a daily growth rate at mean size of 0.31 mm day-1. While showing significant differences in early life history traits across their geographical distribution, C. gunnari populations share a common strategy, spawning a small number of large eggs that hatch in relatively largesized larvae, at a time which may be independent of the timing of pack-ice retreat and onset of the production cycle.
DOI: 10.1007/s00300-013-1304-x
Subject age and growth
Yolk-sac larvae
Bransfield strait
Southern Ocean

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