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Comparative morphology of the sagittal otolith in three species of south Caspian gobies

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Abstract

Sagittal otolith shapes were investigated in order to identify three sympatric species of south Caspian gobies (Caspian goby Neogobius caspius, deepwater goby Ponticola bathybius and bighead goby Ponticola gorlap). The sagittal otoliths in P. bathybius have a rectangular shape and are thick, whereas in N. caspius they are relatively round and thin. In P. gorlap, otoliths have an elongated shape and are relatively thick. The noticeable difference among the otoliths of the three species is the presence of one anterior and one posterior projection in the otoliths of N. caspius and P. gorlap. Among shape indices, form factor (irregularity of surface area), circularity, aspect ratio and rectangularity are the foremost that indicate interspecific variability. The canonical discriminant analysis correctly classifies 94·7% of the original group cases. The overall analyses show the relevance of applying otolith shape for interspecific distinction of the three species of Caspian gobies.

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