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Variation in elasmoid fish scale patterns is informative with regard to taxon and swimming mode

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Publication details

JournalZoological journal of the linnean society
DatePublished - Apr 2009
Issue number4
Number of pages11
Pages (from-to)834-844
Original languageEnglish


Variations in scales from nine regions on the flank of teleost fish were examined from the point of view of functional adaptation and with regard to which scales best differentiate species. Three teleost species were selected; two are from the genus Mugil, M. cephalus and M. curema, which are phylogenetically distant from the third, Dicentrarchus labrax. Scale form was described using seven landmarks, the coordinates of which were subjected to generalized Procrustes analysis followed by principal components analysis. Principal component scores were submitted to cross-validated discriminant analysis to assess the utility of each scale in identifying species. The best discrimination (98%) was obtained with the scale from the central-dorsal area. Scales from the anterior and central zones are relatively wide dorsoventrally and narrow anteroposteriorly. This appears to be related to the profile of the lateral body wall and with subcarangiform swimming. Scales from the posterior region are anteroposteriorly long and dorsoventrally narrow, this shape possibly being related to thrust. Despite the wide phylogenetic separation between mullets and D. labrax, the pattern of scale variation is similar. This may imply strong functional convergence, although studies of sister taxa with different swimming modes are required to confirm this. (C) 2009 The Linnean Society of London, Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2009, 155, 834-844.

    Research areas

  • Dicentrarchus labrax, geometric morphometrics, landmarks, Mugil cephalus, Mugil curema, scale morphology, MOLECULAR PHYLOGENY, POPULATIONS, DNA, MORPHOLOGY, TELEOSTEI, GROWTH, FRESH, SHAPE

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