Marine Biology, in press

Comparison of absolute and relative growth patterns among five Pinna nobilis populations along the Tunisian coastline: an information theory approach

 Lotfi Rabaoui a, Sabiha Tlig Zouari a, Stelios Katsanevakis b* and Oum Kalthoum Ben Hassine a


a Research Unit of Biology, Ecology and Parasitology of Aquatic Organisms, Department of Biology, Faculty of Sciences of Tunis, University campus, El Manar 2092, Tunis, Tunisia

b Department of Zoology-Marine Biology, Faculty of Biology, University of Athens, Panepistimioupolis, 15784 Athens, Greece



The variability in absolute and relative growth of Pinna nobilis along the Tunisian coastline was investigated. Five populations of P. nobilis were sampled, three from northern and two from eastern Tunisia. The specimens were aged, and ten morphometric characters were measured on each individual. To test if differences existed in absolute and relative growth patterns among the different populations an information theory approach was followed. For absolute growth, von Bertalanffy, Gompertz, the logistic and the power models were fitted in combination with three assumptions regarding inter-population differences in absolute growth patterns: no differences, differences among all five populations or just between northern and eastern populations. The assumption of common absolute growth parameters among all five populations had the greatest support by the data, while the assumption of different growth patterns among all five populations had no support. Von Bertalanffy growth model and the power model were both equally supported by the data (while Gompertz had considerably less support and the logistic model had no support), and thus it may not be definitely concluded whether P. nobilis grows asymptotically or not. The P. nobilis populations of the Tunisian coastline had a slow growth and up to an age of ~9 yr their shells were smaller than from all other reported populations in the Mediterranean. For relative growth, apart from the classical allometric model Y=aX^b , relating the size of a part of the body Y and another reference dimension X, more complicated models were used in combination with the three abovementioned assumptions regarding inter-population differences. Those models, of the form logY = f(logX) , either assumed breakpoints in the relative growth trajectories or non-linearities. For most morphometric characters, the classical allometric model had no support by the data and more complicated models were necessary.  In most cases, different relative growth either among all five populations or between the northern and eastern population groups was supported by the data. Further investigation is needed to relate the morphological differences observed among different populations of P. nobilis to environmental factors.