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A racial investigation of the bluefish, Pomatomus saltatrix of the Atlantic coast of North America


A racial investigation of the bluefish, Pomatomus saltatrix of the Atlantic coast of North America



Bol Inst Oceanogr 1(1): 73-129



Meristic characters from samples of the bluefish collected on the Atlantic coast of North America were studied in an attempt to determine whether races exist. The characters examined were: the number of soft rays in the anal, left-pectoral, and second-dorsal fins; the number of scales in the lateral line, and the number of gill rakers on the first left-branchial arch. Three potential sources of variation were investigated before comparisons were made on a geographical basis. Variation in the method of counting was examined and was found to exist only for lateral-line scale counts; however, an F-test yielded a non-significant value. Variation between sexes was not present in the five characters studied. Variation between year classes collected in the same locality existed only in lateral-line scale counts. No differences of biological significance were found in the number of soft rays in the anal, left-pectoral, and second-dorsal fins in samples collected from Massachusetts to Florida. The number of gill rakers on the first-branchial arch was the only character of diagnostic importance. The number of gill rakers was found to be negatively correlated with the length of the fish. An exponential relation was assumed and the dependent variable was transformed to logarithms so that linear computing methods could be used. The data were examined in an analysis of covariance. The differences found in gill-raker counts are believed to be primarily of genetic origin. On the basis of gill-raker counts there appear to be six races of bluefish along the Atlantic coast of North America. These races, denoted by the geographical area in which they are found during the warmer months are: (1) Massachusetts-Connecticut-Rhode Island-New York; (2) New Jersey; (3) Delaware; (4) Chesapeake Bay to Cape Lookout, North Carolina; (5) Cape Lookout, North Carolina, to perhaps Georgia; and (6) Florida. Commercial fishery catch statistics and the presence of a suitable offshore winter environment are used to support the view that races of bluefish do exist. It is hypothesized that coastal currents may be the isolating mechanism responsible for race formation. A sample of bluefish collected in the Mediterranean Sea in Haifa Bay, Israel, was found to be quite different from their North American relatives in all characters studied.

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