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Discriminating farmed gilthead sea bream Sparus aurata and European sea bass Dicentrarchus labrax from wild stocks through scales and otoliths

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The study of mass and standard length (L S) relationships showed that farmed individuals had higher values than wild fishes for both gilthead sea bream Sparus aurata and European sea bass Dicentrarchus labrax. Such differences were more pronounced in larger individuals than smaller ones and were more noticeable in S. aurata than in D. labrax. Additionally, differences in external characteristics of scales were detected between origins. A high proportion of farmed S. aurata had a regenerated nucleus (98%) and scale malformations (73%), and there were no annual rings in the farmed D. labrax (100%). Variation in otolith morphology was examined through shape descriptors such as area, perimeter, circularity, roundness, mass, height and length relationship and elliptic Fourier descriptors (EFDs). Important differences were found within geographical origins according to each shape descriptor separately, but no clear patterns distinguished wild and farmed fish. Discriminant analysis with either all shape descriptors together or EFDs was able to classify with high accuracy both S. aurata (89·5–95·7%) and D. labrax (93·2–95·2%) according to their origin. Hence, this study suggests the use of scale characteristics as the easiest and quickest way to distinguish farmed or escaped fishes, and secondly, the usefulness of EFDs or shape descriptors to improve such separation.

Document Type: Regular Paper


Publication date: 2012-05-01

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