The taxonomy, life-history and population dynamics of blacktail, Diplodus Capensis (Perciformes: Sparidae), in southern Angola

Richardson, Timothy John (2010) The taxonomy, life-history and population dynamics of blacktail, Diplodus Capensis (Perciformes: Sparidae), in southern Angola. Masters thesis, Rhodes University.




The blacktail, Diplodus capensis, is an inshore sparid fish distributed from Mozambique to Angola. This species forms an important component of coastal fisheries within its distribution, one being the subsistence handline fishery in southern Angola. With this fishery being critically important to the livelihoods of local communities, a biological study and stock assessment was conducted to provide information for the management of this species in southern Angola. However, with molecular evidence suggesting that the Benguela current may have separated the southern African populations of many inshore fish species over two million years ago, a morphological, taxonomic analysis was considered necessary to first investigate whether there was evidence for allopatry in this species. A total of 46 morphometric measurements and 18 counts were carried out on specimens collected from various locations in southern Angola and South Africa. Results were analysed using multi-dimensional scaling (MDS) and the significance of clusters was tested using analysis of similarities (ANOSIM). Biological samples of D. capensis were collected monthly from an unexploited area from April 2008 to March 2009. Additional biological samples were collected from the subsistence fishers in an exploited area during May, June and December 2009. Standard biological laboratory techniques were employed for the lifehistory comparison between the exploited and unexploited area. A per-recruit analysis was conducted using the life-history parameters from both areas in order to assess the current status of the subsistence fishery and to investigate the potential short-falls of the per-recruit assessment approach. The morphometric comparison showed that there was not sufficient evidence for speciation between the southern Angolan and South African populations of D. capensis. There was, however, sufficient morphological evidence to suggest that these populations are separate stocks. This indicated that the existing reference points on which the management of the South African population is based are unsuitable for the Angolan population. Diplodus capensis in southern Angola is omnivorous, feeding predominantly on algae, barnacles and mussels. An ontogenetic shift from algae to barnacles and mussels was correlated with allometric growth patterns in their feeding apparatus. This species is a rudimentary hermaphrodite in southern Angola with peak spawning in June and July. The overall sex ratio (M: F) was 1: 4.7 in the unexploited area and 50% maturity was attained at 149.5mm FL and five years. Diplodus capensis in southern Angola exhibits very slow growth with the maximum age observed being 31 years (validated using mark recapture of chemically injected fish). Females [L(t) = 419.5(1-e-0.045(t-3.4))] grew significantly faster (LRT, p < 0.05) than males [L(t) = 297.4(1-e-0.077(t-2.7))], and females dominated the larger size classes and older age classes. In the exploited area, the length and age frequencies were severely truncated, the maximum observed age was greatly reduced (17 years) and the sex ratio was less female biased at 1: 2.2. Although there was no evidence for a physiological response to exploitation through alterations in growth or size/age at sexual maturity between the two areas, there was an increase in the proportion of small females in the exploited area, which may have been a compensatory response for the loss of large females. A combination of an underestimate of longevity, different estimates of the Von Bertalanffy growth parameters and overestimates of the natural mortality rate in the exploited population resulted in a 92% underestimate of the pristine spawner biomass-per-recruit (SBR) value. An assessment based on the actual pristine SBR estimate from the unexploited area revealed that the subsistence fishery had actually reduced D. capensis to 20% of its pristine SBR levels and highlighted the value of pre-exploitation life-history information for the application of per-recruit models. This study has shown that D. capensis in southern Angola displays life-history characteristics that render it susceptible to overexploitation, even at low levels of fishing pressure. The current lack of infrastructure and enforcement capacity in the fisheries department of Angola renders traditional linefish regulatory tools, such as size limits, bag limits and closed seasons, inappropriate. Therefore, suitably designed marine protected areas are recommended as the best management option for this species.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Diplodus, Angola, Perciformes, Sparidae, Fish populations, Classification of fishes, Fisheries
Subjects:Q Science > QL Zoology > Chordates. Vertebrates > Fishes
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Science > Ichthyology & Fisheries Science
ID Code:2092
Deposited By: Ms Chantel Clack
Deposited On:11 Oct 2011 08:21
Last Modified:06 Jan 2012 16:22
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