Use of the otolith shape analysis in stock identification of anglerfish (Lophius piscatorius) in the Northeast Atlantic

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The geographical variability in the anglerfish Lophius piscatorius otolith shape was investigated to examine biological evidence for the current separation into Northern and Southern stocks of L. piscatorius established in the Southwest European waters (Southern Shelf area) by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES). In all, 629 otoliths of L. piscatorius (12–90 cm total length) from commercial fishing and research surveys were collected in two consecutive years, 2008 and 2009. The otolith shape was compared between stocks for differences in univariate descriptors using non-parametric analysis of covariance, as well as elliptical Fourier shape descriptors, through a metric multidimensional scaling and a linear discriminant analysis (LDA). The differences found in the otolith shape between Northern and Southern stocks were not large enough to hold the current status of L. piscatorius regarding stock definition in the Southern Shelf area, although homogeneous mixing between both stocks is not expected as there were significant differences between three univariate descriptors and the LDA was significant. These results are in agreement with the previous L. piscatorius stock identification studies (genetics, body morphology, and migratory behaviour), which do not support the current separation of these stocks but found substructures within the area.

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