MEPS 270:241-257 (2004)  -  doi:10.3354/meps270241

Influence of salinity on life history traits of the bonga shad Ethmalosa fimbriata (Pisces, Clupeidae): comparison between the Gambia and Saloum estuaries

Jacques Panfili1,*, Jean-Dominique Durand1,2, Abdou Mbow3, Bruno Guinand2, Khady Diop1, Justin Kantoussan1,4, Diaga Thior1, Omar T. Thiaw4, Jean-Jacques Albaret1, Raymond Laë1

1Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD), BP 1386, 18524 Dakar, Sénégal
2Laboratoire Génome, Populations, Interactions, Adaptation (UMR CNRS 5000/Université Montpellier 2 and IFREMER URM 16), Station Méditerranéenne de l'Environnement Littoral, Sète, France
3Laboratoire de Biologie Marine, IFAN, Université Cheikh Anta Diop, BP 206, Dakar, Sénégal
4Laboratoire Biologie Cellulaire et Moléculaire, Reproduction et Génétique, Département de Biologie Animale, FST, Université Cheikh Anta Diop, BP 5005, Dakar, Sénégal

ABSTRACT: The common West African bonga shad represents a large part of the fish biomass in 2 neighbouring estuaries that function in different ways. The Gambia estuary has a normal salinity gradient, while the Saloum has an inverse gradient. Bonga shad Ethmalosa fimbriata were collected in both ecosystems during a 16 mo period (June 2001 to September 2002) at 5 locations, to investigate the role of salinity on life history traits. The main traits were studied at a spatio-temporal scale: reproduction from macroscopic examination of the gonads, oocyte counting and measuring, and growth from interpretation and measurements of a sub-sample of otoliths. Analysis of genetic differentiation at 3 intronic and 1 anonymous nuclear gene loci was also carried out to investigate differences between estuaries and among locations. The results did not show any allelic frequency heterogeneity between populations, indicating that populations of both estuaries represent 1 single panmictic unit, and that selection is not significantly acting on these loci. Hence, the response of the different traits to environmental variation may primarily represent phenotypic plasticity. The seasonal cycle of reproduction was clearer in the Saloum, occurring during a long period (January to August). The calculated size at maturity was reduced for both sexes in the upper Saloum, where the salinity was highest. The relative fecundity and the oocyte size were larger in the Saloum. On the otoliths, translucent zones, formed each year at the end of the rains (September to October), were used to estimate the age in months. Growth rates were reduced in the hypersaline environment of the Saloum, whereas growth differences were smaller between the Gambia and the pooled Saloum data, with a salinity <60 psu. Growth was faster in the lower parts of the Saloum, related to better conditions for fish. The results illustrate that an environment with high salinity (>60 psu) affects the growth, reduces the size-at-maturity and increases the fecundity of E. fimbriata.


KEY WORDS: West Africa · Life histories · Genetic structure · Reproduction · Growth · Environmental stress


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