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Ontogenic and ecological control of metamorphosis onset in a carapid fish, Carapus homei: experimental evidence from vertebra and otolith comparisons
Parmentier, E.; Lecchini, D.; Lagardere, F.; Vandewalle, P. (2004). Ontogenic and ecological control of metamorphosis onset in a carapid fish, Carapus homei: experimental evidence from vertebra and otolith comparisons. J. Exp. Zool., Part A Comp. Exp. Biol. 301A(8): 617-628. http://hdl.handle.net/10.1002/jez.a.50
In: Journal of Experimental Zoology. Part A, Comparative Experimental Biology. Wiley-Liss: Hoboken, NJ. ISSN 1548-8969; e-ISSN 1552-499X, meer
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  • Parmentier, E., meer
  • Lecchini, D.
  • Lagardere, F.
  • Vandewalle, P., meer

Abstract
    In Carapus homei, reef colonisation is associated with a penetration inside a sea cucumber followed by heavy transformations during which the length of the fish is reduced by 60%. By comparing vertebral axis to otolith ontogenetic changes, this study aimed (i) to specify the events linked to metamorphosis, and (ii) to establish to what extent these fish have the ability to delay it. Different larvae of C. homei were caught when settling on the reef and kept in different experimental conditions for at least 7 days and up to 21 days: darkness or natural light conditions, presence of sea cucumber or not, and food deprivation or not. Whatever the nutritional condition, a period of darkness seems sufficient to initiate metamorphosis. Twenty-one days in natural light conditions delayed metamorphosis, whereas the whole metamorphosis process is the fastest (15 days) for larvae living in sea cucumbers. Whether the metamorphosis was initiated or not, otoliths were modified with the formation of a transition zone, whose structure varied depending on the experimental conditions. At day 21, larvae maintained in darkness had an otolith transition zone with more increments (around 80), albeit wider than those (more or less 21) of individuals kept under natural lighting. These differences in otolith growth could indicate an increased incorporation rate of released metabolites by metamorphosing larvae. However, the presence of a transition zone in delayed-metamorphosis larvae suggests that these otolith changes record the endogenously-induced onset of metamorphosis, whereas body transformations seem to be modulated by the environmental conditions of settlement.

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