Special Issue "Fish Larval Biology and Ecology"

A special issue of Oceans (ISSN 2673-1924).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 April 2021).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Pedro Morais
E-Mail Website1 Website2
Guest Editor
CCMAR-Centre of Marine Sciences, Campus de Gambelas, University of Algarve, 8005-139 Faro, Portugal
Interests: estuarine ecology; biological invasions; fish migration
Dr. Ana Faria
E-Mail Website1 Website2
Guest Editor
MARE - Marine and Environmental Sciences Centre, ISPA-Instituto Universitário, Rua Jardim do Tabaco, 34, 1149-041 Lisbon, Portugal
Interests: fish larval ecology; behavioral ecology; the effect of anthropogenic changes

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The dynamic interaction between fish larval stages and hydrographic conditions, physical, chemical, and biological environmental settings, as well as species biological traits, plays a pivotal role in recruitment variability. Additionally, the impacts of climate change and other anthropogenic stressors on aquatic ecosystems modulate several life history traits of fish larvae and their mortality, a dynamics that we still strive to understand and predict. Therefore, with this broad-scope Special Issue, we aim to illustrate the diversity of research fields focused on improving our knowledge of fish larval biology and ecology across the globe, either in oceanic, coastal, reef, or estuarine ecosystems.

We look forward to receiving your contributions to the Special Issue.

Dr. Pedro Morais
Dr. Ana Faria
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Oceans is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

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Article
Effect of Temperature on the Daily Increment Deposition in the Otoliths of European Sardine Sardina pilchardus (Walbaum, 1792) Larvae
Oceans 2021, 2(4), 723-737; https://doi.org/10.3390/oceans2040041 - 08 Nov 2021
Viewed by 372
Abstract
Otolith microstructure analysis is a valuable tool to evaluate the relationship between larval age and growth and how it relates to environmental variability. Otolith growth and daily increment deposition were analyzed in sardine (Sardina pilchardus) larvae reared in the laboratory under [...] Read more.
Otolith microstructure analysis is a valuable tool to evaluate the relationship between larval age and growth and how it relates to environmental variability. Otolith growth and daily increment deposition were analyzed in sardine (Sardina pilchardus) larvae reared in the laboratory under different temperatures (13, 15, and 17 °C), with a diet rich in microalgae, rotifers, and copepods Acartia grani. The number and width of growth increments, first-check and otolith diameter were determined in the otoliths and then related to larval age and total length. At hatching, the sagittal otoliths consisted of a lenticular core with a diameter of 10.56 μm (±1.07 μm SD). Somatic growth increased with the increasing temperature and the growth rate of larvae reared at 13 and 15 °C was significantly lower than for larvae reared at 17 °C. At 17 °C, otoliths exhibited a higher diameter with wider increments than at 13 °C. There was a high variability of increment counts-at-age for larvae reared within the same temperature treatment. The increase of growth increments with larval size was higher for larvae reared at 17 °C until 35 days post-hatching than those growing at 15 °C. Scanning electronic microscopy confirmed that increments are deposited daily, with an average width smaller than 1 µm and as low as 0.33 μm, therefore impossible to distinguish using light microscopy. At colder temperatures, larval otoliths had thinner and less marked increments and lower growth rates, which can lead to incorrect age determinations. The effect of temperature on the otolith microstructure can help in identifying strong temperature gradients experienced by wild sardine larvae. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fish Larval Biology and Ecology)
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Article
Larval Fish Community in the Northwestern Iberian Upwelling System during the Summer Period
Oceans 2021, 2(4), 700-722; https://doi.org/10.3390/oceans2040040 - 15 Oct 2021
Viewed by 412
Abstract
The Galician shelf (northwestern Iberian Peninsula) is a highly dynamic area with an important multi-species fisheries industry that exploits resources from several habitats, characterized by being not only highly diverse, rich, and productive but also seasonally and interannually variable. Early life stages of [...] Read more.
The Galician shelf (northwestern Iberian Peninsula) is a highly dynamic area with an important multi-species fisheries industry that exploits resources from several habitats, characterized by being not only highly diverse, rich, and productive but also seasonally and interannually variable. Early life stages of different species are distributed throughout the year, with fluctuating abundances and community composition. Likewise, the influence of environmental factors and processes on larval production and survival remains unknown. Sampling was carried out in July 2012, and all the larvae obtained were identified to establish the specific composition of the community in a summer upwelling scenario. The results show no zonation in the species distribution, a consequence of the mixing effects of the upwelling and eddies, with high diversity but low abundance, which render in a slight predominance of a few species. Due to the dependence of planktonic populations on upwelling events, which was not highly pronounced in 2012, we cannot conclude that this was a typical conformation of the Galician summer larval fish community, but it is a first approach to comprehend the community composition. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fish Larval Biology and Ecology)
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Article
Do Sand Smelt (Atherina presbyter Cuvier, 1829) Larvae Discriminate among Conspecifics Using Different Sensory Cues?
Oceans 2021, 2(4), 675-687; https://doi.org/10.3390/oceans2040038 - 28 Sep 2021
Viewed by 556
Abstract
The ability of shoaling fish to recognise and differentiate between potential groupmates may affect their fitness and survival. Fish are capable of social recognition and multiple sensory cues mediate the recognition mechanisms. This has been comprehensively studied for juvenile and adult freshwater species. [...] Read more.
The ability of shoaling fish to recognise and differentiate between potential groupmates may affect their fitness and survival. Fish are capable of social recognition and multiple sensory cues mediate the recognition mechanisms. This has been comprehensively studied for juvenile and adult freshwater species. However, the recognition ability and mechanisms intervening during the larval phase of marine species are yet poorly understood. Fish larvae are capable of discriminating conspecifics from heterospecifics based on chemical and/or visual cues, but whether this recognition occurs at finer scales, such as discerning among conspecifics of different reefs, is yet understudied. Here, we tested the hypothesis that larvae of a marine fish species, the sand smelt (Atherina presbyter Cuvier, 1829), are able to recognise and associate with conspecifics of their natal reef versus conspecifics of a non-natal reef based on three sensory modalities—chemical, visual, and chemical and visual simultaneously. Results do not support our hypothesis, but still provide evidence of group cohesion and indicate large differences in the relative importance of the different senses when associating with conspecifics, with visual cues playing a more important role than chemical cues alone. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fish Larval Biology and Ecology)
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Article
Influence of the Seasonal Thermocline on the Vertical Distribution of Larval Fish Assemblages Associated with Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Spawning Grounds
Oceans 2021, 2(1), 64-83; https://doi.org/10.3390/oceans2010004 - 08 Jan 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1263
Abstract
Temperature is often an important variable influencing the vertical position of fish larvae in the water column. The same species may show different vertical distributions in areas with a strong near-surface seasonal thermocline compared to isothermal near-surface regions. In areas with a strong [...] Read more.
Temperature is often an important variable influencing the vertical position of fish larvae in the water column. The same species may show different vertical distributions in areas with a strong near-surface seasonal thermocline compared to isothermal near-surface regions. In areas with a strong surface thermocline, tuna larvae show a significant preference for the near-surface warmer layers. Little is known regarding larval tuna vertical distribution in isothermal waters and on the vertical distribution of the associated larval fish assemblages. We conducted vertical stratified sampling using the same methodology and fishing device (MOCNESS) in the two major spawning areas of Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT): western Mediterranean Sea (MED), characterized by a surface thermocline, and the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) which lacks thermal stratification. Tuna larvae occupied the upper 30 m in both areas, but the average larval depth distribution was consistently deeper in the GOM. In the MED, vertical distribution of larval fish assemblages was explained by temperature, and species such as BFT, Thunnus alalunga, and Ceratoscopelus maderensis, among others, coexist above the thermocline and are separated from species such as Cyclothone braueri and Hygophum spp. (found below the thermocline). In the GOM, the environmental correlates of the vertical distribution of the larvae were salinity and fluorescence. Mesopelagic taxa such as Ceratoscopelus spp. and Cyclothone spp., among others, had a shallower average distribution than Lampanyctus spp., Hygophum spp., and Myctophum spp. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fish Larval Biology and Ecology)
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Article
Effects of Experimental Ocean Acidification on the Larval Morphology and Metabolism of a Temperate Sparid, Chrysoblephus laticeps
Oceans 2021, 2(1), 26-40; https://doi.org/10.3390/oceans2010002 - 30 Dec 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 971
Abstract
Ocean acidification is predicted to have widespread impacts on marine species. The early life stages of fishes, being particularly sensitive to environmental deviations, represent a critical bottleneck to recruitment. We investigated the effects of ocean acidification (∆pH = −0.4) on the oxygen consumption [...] Read more.
Ocean acidification is predicted to have widespread impacts on marine species. The early life stages of fishes, being particularly sensitive to environmental deviations, represent a critical bottleneck to recruitment. We investigated the effects of ocean acidification (∆pH = −0.4) on the oxygen consumption and morphometry during the early ontogeny of a commercially important seabream, Chrysoblephus laticeps, up until flexion. Hatchlings appeared to be tolerant to hypercapnic conditions, exhibiting no difference in oxygen consumption or morphometry between treatments, although the yolk reserves were marginally reduced in the low-pH treatment. The preflexion stages appeared to undergo metabolic depression, exhibiting lower metabolic rates along with lower growth metrics in hypercapnic conditions. However, although the sample sizes were low, the flexion-stage larvae exhibited greater rates of metabolic and growth metric increases in hypercapnic conditions. This study shows that the effects of OA may be stage specific during early ontogeny and potentially related to the development of crucial organs, such as the gills. Future studies investigating the effects of climate change on fish larvae should endeavour to include multiple developmental stages in order to make more accurate predictions on recruitment dynamics for the coming decades. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fish Larval Biology and Ecology)
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Communication
Feeding Ecology of Sicydium bustamantei (Greeff 1884, Gobiidae) Post-Larvae: The “Little Fish” of São Tomé Island
Oceans 2020, 1(4), 300-310; https://doi.org/10.3390/oceans1040020 - 05 Nov 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1279
Abstract
The rivers of São Tomé Island are colonized by Sicydium bustamantei (Greeff 1882), an amphidromous fish that spawns in those areas. After hatching, larvae drift to the ocean with the river flow. In the marine realm, the planktonic larvae develop and migrate to [...] Read more.
The rivers of São Tomé Island are colonized by Sicydium bustamantei (Greeff 1882), an amphidromous fish that spawns in those areas. After hatching, larvae drift to the ocean with the river flow. In the marine realm, the planktonic larvae develop and migrate to freshwater as post-larvae. The migrations of post-larvae support important local fisheries at the mouth of rivers in tropical volcanic islands. Amphidromous post-larvae rely on plankton as their main source of organic matter. However, the biology and ecology of S. bustamantei in the West African islands are understudied, despite its importance for local fisheries. Thus, this study aimed to start bridging this gap by studying its feeding ecology. Our objectives were to identify the main prey of S. bustamantei post-larvae, combining gut content with stable isotope analyses. The gut contents included zooplankton (Chaetognatha, Ostracoda, and unidentified crustaceans), debris from plant and/or macroalgae-derived material, and microplastics (including microfibers). The stable isotopes analysis indicated that zooplankton and macroalgae detritus were the main sources of organic matter assimilated by this species. We also demonstrated that S. bustamantei post-larvae are omnivorous and secondary consumers. These data provide pioneering information that can be used in management plans that still need to be developed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fish Larval Biology and Ecology)
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Article
Ontogeny of Orientation during the Early Life History of the Pelagic Teleost Mahi-Mahi, Coryphaena hippurus Linnaeus, 1758
Oceans 2020, 1(4), 237-250; https://doi.org/10.3390/oceans1040017 - 08 Oct 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1500
Abstract
Understanding the orientation behavior and capabilities in early life history (ELH) of fishes is critical for studying their dispersal but has, surprisingly, never been tested in any pelagic species. We here investigate the ontogeny of orientation and swimming abilities of the pelagic Coryphaena [...] Read more.
Understanding the orientation behavior and capabilities in early life history (ELH) of fishes is critical for studying their dispersal but has, surprisingly, never been tested in any pelagic species. We here investigate the ontogeny of orientation and swimming abilities of the pelagic Coryphaena hippurus Linnaeus, 1758 larvae, hereafter mahi-mahi, through their ELH stages using the Drifting In Situ Chamber (DISC) in a laboratory setup. The DISC was deployed in a large (3 m3) circular aquarium in order to control the stimulus perceived by the fish and to identify behavioral response at the individual, developmental stage, and population levels. A total of 79 individual ranging from 7 to 23 days post hatch and from preflexion to early juvenile stages were exposed to a directional light mimicking the sun’s position. Orientation towards the light direction was tested by switching the light by 180° among trials. To compare the orientation among development stages, we scaled the directionality by the swimming ability, therein defined as “directionality competence”. The results show that while mahi-mahi directionality competence increases through ontogeny, they acquire a positive and directional phototaxis behavior at the flexion stage. This potential solar orientation is kept through the early juvenile stage. Mahi-mahi may thus be able to use the sun as a compass in the open ocean as observed in the larval stages of demersal species seeking for settlement habitats. This ability notably develops before the improvement of their swimming capabilities, suggesting that early orientation—even at micro-scale—and swimming capabilities may be equally important for the survival of the ELH stages of pelagic species. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fish Larval Biology and Ecology)
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Review

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Review
Perspectives on Larval Behaviour in Biophysical Modelling of Larval Dispersal in Marine, Demersal Fishes
Oceans 2021, 2(1), 1-25; https://doi.org/10.3390/oceans2010001 - 22 Dec 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1277
Abstract
Biophysical dispersal models for marine fish larvae are widely used by marine ecologists and managers of fisheries and marine protected areas to predict movement of larval fishes during their pelagic larval duration (PLD). Over the past 25 years, it has become obvious that [...] Read more.
Biophysical dispersal models for marine fish larvae are widely used by marine ecologists and managers of fisheries and marine protected areas to predict movement of larval fishes during their pelagic larval duration (PLD). Over the past 25 years, it has become obvious that behaviour—primarily vertical positioning, horizontal swimming and orientation—of larvae during their PLD can strongly influence dispersal outcomes. Yet, most published models do not include even one of these behaviours, and only a tiny fraction include all three. Furthermore, there is no clarity on how behaviours should be incorporated into models, nor on how to obtain the quantitative, empirical data needed to parameterize models. The PLD is a period of morphological, physiological and behavioural change, which presents challenges for modelling. The present paper aims to encourage the inclusion of larval behaviour in biophysical dispersal models for larvae of marine demersal fishes by providing practical suggestions, advice and insights about obtaining and incorporating behaviour of larval fishes into such models based on experience. Key issues are features of different behavioural metrics, incorporation of ontogenetic, temporal, spatial and among-individual variation, and model validation. Research on behaviour of larvae of study species should be part of any modelling effort. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fish Larval Biology and Ecology)
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