Segregation of SE Pacific and SW Atlantic southern blue whiting stocks: integrating evidence from complementary otolith microchemistry and parasite assemblage approaches
Niklitschek, Edwin J.
Secor, David H.
DescriptionArtículo de publicación ISI
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Southern blue whiting Micromesistius australis support one of the largest industrial fisheries in South America. Two main spawning/nursery grounds are known: one in the SW Atlantic Ocean (SWA), southwest from the Falkland (Malvinas) Islands; and other in the SE Pacific Ocean (SEP), south from the Taitao Peninsula. Juveniles originating from both grounds are believed to mix during migration and/or in feeding areas in the Scotia Sea. Previous efforts to distinguish stocks in this area have yielded contradictory results between genetics and otolith microchemical analyses. In the present work we revisited the null hypothesis of a single stock occurring in the broader SWA-SEP region by comparing and integrating results from different approaches: trace metals (Ca, Sr, Ba, Mg, Mn) and stable isotopes (δ13C, δ18O) in otolith cores, and parasite assemblage compositions in adults from SWA and SEP spawning grounds. We found significant differences in Sr:Ca, δ13C and δ18O mean ratios between spawning grounds. The best trace element discriminant model classified 83% of the samples. Each stable isotope discriminated >90% of the samples, while combining them into a bivariate discriminant model led to 100% classification success. Higher δ18O levels in the SWA samples agreed with lower mean temperature and higher ambient δ18O levels in that area. Parasite assemblage compositions also showed significant differences between grounds regarding the prevalence of Chondracanthus, Contracaecum, Hepatoxylon and Grillotia and the abundance of Diclidophora, Anisakis, Contracaecum, Hysterothylacium and Hepatoxylon. Parasite-based discriminant models supported 90–100% correct assignment of samples to capture location. Although preliminary due to limited sampling coverage, our results support the existence of at least two ecologically distinct sub-populations of southern blue whiting in South America. The joint use of otolith microchemistry and parasitological techniques showed to be a promising way to test hypotheses concerning ecological stocks in marine fishes.