MEPS 366:75-89 (2008)  -  DOI:

Predicting biological variation using a simple morphometric marker in the sedentary marine invertebrate Haliotis rubra

T. Saunders1,2,*, S. Mayfield1

1South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) Aquatic Sciences, PO Box 120, Henley Beach, South Australia 5022, Australia
2Southern Seas Ecology Laboratories, DP418, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia 5005, Australia

ABSTRACT: Many sedentary marine invertebrates have a fine-scale (100s m) population structure that complicates their conservation and management. This is a consequence of the limited information on the boundaries between component populations and the biological variability among them. Blacklip abalone Haliotis rubra form discrete populations, many of which are ‘stunted’ with individuals reaching a maximum length less than those in adjacent areas. In the present study, we obtained information on the growth, size at maturity and fecundity of H. rubra from stunted and ‘non-stunted’ populations spread across broad (10s km) and fine (100s m) spatial scales. Relationships between each of these key population parameters and a simple ‘morphometric marker’ based on the relationship between shell length and shell height were also examined. Variation in broad-scale growth and size at maturity could primarily be attributed to differences between stunted and non-stunted sites. Within the stunted site, growth and size at maturity were substantially different over distances >150 m. However, within the non-stunted site these parameters tended to be similar across 1000 m. While the lowest fecundities tended to be in the stunted sites, there was significant overlap among all sites. These spatial patterns in biology were highly correlated with the spatial variability observed in a simple morphometric marker. These results suggest that this morphometric marker can be used as a tool for the spatial management of abalone fisheries by cheaply inferring key biological parameters for individual populations and identifing the boundaries among these based on these differences.

KEY WORDS: Biological variation · Morphometric marker · Population boundaries · Spatial management

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Cite this article as: Saunders T, Mayfield S (2008) Predicting biological variation using a simple morphometric marker in the sedentary marine invertebrate Haliotis rubra. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 366:75-89.

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