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MEPS 731:197-215 (2024)  -  DOI:

Importance of estuaries for the horse-eye jack Caranx latus in northeastern Brazil: a case study of underestimated connectivity at the land-sea interface

Júlio Guazzelli Gonzalez1,2,5,*, Thierry Frédou1, Paulo José Duarte-Neto3, Maylis Labonne2, Alex S. Lira4, Andrey P. C. Soares1, Audrey M. Darnaude2

1Universidade Federal Rural de Pernambuco, UFRPE, Departamento de Recursos Pesqueiros e Aquicultura, 52171-900 Recife, PE, Brazil
2MARBEC, Université de Montpellier, CNRS, IRD, Ifremer, 34095 Montpellier, France
3Universidade Federal Rural de Pernambuco, UFRPE, Departamento de Estatística e Informática, 52171-900 Recife, PE, Brazil
4Departamento de Pesca e Aquicultura, Universidade Federal de Sergipe, 49100-000 Aracaju, SE, Brazil
5Present address: Asian School of the Environment, Nanyang Technological University, 639798, Singapore
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: This study aimed to evaluate the importance of inshore estuarine habitats for the maintenance of offshore exploited stocks of the horse-eye jack Caranx latus, a marine tropical species of high economic value. Otoliths of 143 yearlings were used to develop a data set of multi-elemental fingerprints for different juvenile habitats of C. latus in northeastern Brazil, including 7 estuaries and the coastal zone. This data set was then compared to the signatures in the juvenile part of the otolith of 40 sub-adult and adult fish caught at sea to identify their origin. Although otolith multi-elemental concentrations overlapped for some of the estuaries investigated, the maximum overall discrimination accuracy between them was only 58%. However, grouping several estuaries according to their similarity in elemental signatures increased accuracy to 80%. In both cases, correct re-assignment rates for the coastal zone were above 94%, and strontium (Sr) was the most significant element in juvenile habitat discrimination. The remaining elements (B, Ba, Co, P, Rb, and Zn) allowed us to distinguish between 3 distinct groups of estuaries, for which correct re-assignment rates were 70-88%. Juvenile fingerprints in sub-adult and adult otoliths revealed that most of the fish in the local, exploited stock (75%) originate from an inshore estuarine habitat, particularly from larger estuaries under constant marine influence (32.5%). This biological connectivity between continental and coastal waters should be considered for the conservation of tropical marine coastal stocks in general, as it is likely to apply to other exploited marine species, in Brazil and elsewhere.

KEY WORDS: Marine fish · Transitional waters · Otolith chemistry · Elemental fingerprints · Juvenile habitat

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Cite this article as: Gonzalez JG, Frédou T, Duarte-Neto PJ, Labonne M, Lira AS, Soares APC, Darnaude AM (2024) Importance of estuaries for the horse-eye jack Caranx latus in northeastern Brazil: a case study of underestimated connectivity at the land-sea interface. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 731:197-215.

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