Separating Early Larvae of Sciaenids from the Western North Atlantic: A Review and Comparison of Larvae Off Louisiana and Atlantic Coast of the U.S.
Abstract:At least 21 species of sciaenids occur along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the U.S. with several members of the family supporting important recreational and commercial fisheries. Although descriptive literature is available for the larvae of most sciaenids, it contains many inaccuracies and is insufficient for separating similar taxa. Close examination of critical areas of pigmentation separate most sciaenids, with several species easily recognized because of characteristic pigment patterns. Larimus fasciatus larvae have pigment on the anterior forebrain, anterior and posterior midbrain, posterior hindbrain, and pectoral fin. Bairdiella chrysoura larvae have a “cleithral swath” of pigment. Larvae of Menticirrhus sp. and Cynoscion nebulosus have palatal pigment; however, only Menticirrhus sp. have multiple melanophores on the nape and lack pigment immediately anterior to the cleithral symphysis. Larvae of C. arenarius, C. nothus, and C. regalis are the only taxa lacking heavy dorsal, lateral, and/or brain pigmentation that have pigment on the gular isthmus between lower jaw rami. Micropogonias undulatus larvae lack pigment on the anterior visceral mass whereas all other species have pigment at this location. In addition to pigmentation, morphometrics are helpful for separating several taxa from the northern Gulf of Mexico, especially Leiostomus xanthurus from M. undulatus, and C. nothus from C. arenarius. Two morphs of C. arenarius larvae were recognized from the northern Gulf but the taxonomic significance of this variation is uncertain.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: May 1, 1989
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