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On-line version ISSN 1982-0224
BAIGUN, Claudio R. M.; COLAUTTI, Darío C. and GROSMAN, Fabian. Assessment of condition in pejerrey Odontesthes bonariensis (Atheriniformes: Atherinopsidae) populations: which index works best?. Neotrop. ichthyol. [online]. 2009, vol.7, n.3, pp. 439-446. ISSN 1982-0224. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1679-62252009000300011.
The pejerrey Odontesthes bonariensis is the most important target species in temperate freshwater fisheries of Argentina, and assessment of condition has been a regular practice and common diagnostic tool. Most pejerrey fishery studies have used Fulton's (K) index, without testing whether underlying assumptions or requirements were met. We analyzed and contrasted the applicability of K, Kn and Wr indices to assess condition status in several pejerrey populations inhabiting Pampean lakes. Our results showed that whereas Wr and Kn displayed significant condition changes across length at some study lakes, Kn portrayed a small range of variation. We also noted that pejerrey maximum length and size structure strongly varied among populations probably due to the characteristics of trophic niche changes through lifespan, depending on lake limnological characteristics and zooplankton availability. We conclude that the K index should be disregarded in those cases where populations show allometric growth and size ranges strongly vary. In turn, the Kn index appears to be only appropriate for regular within population assessment, being difficult to apply when comparisons between populations are needed and when they exhibit different weight-length relationship slopes. Finally, the Wr index should be strongly preferred if the objective is to perform comparisons between pejerrey populations, particularly when population structure is not well known, stocking has been used for population recovery, lakes are strongly supported by limnological changes, data are limited to only one or few samplings and metaphoetesis is suspected in pejerrey populations.
Keywords : Fish plumpness; Pampean lakes; Fishery management.